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Full text of "With the border ruffians : memories of the Far West, 1852-1868"

R01ke03L75A 
txr 



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in 2012 with funding from 

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WITH THE BORDER RUFFIANS 



First Edition . . . November, 1907 
Reprinted .... February, 1908 



kr 



WITH THE 

BORDER RUFFIANS 

MEMORIES OF THE FAR WEST 
1852 — 1868 

BY R. H. WILLIAMS 

SOMETIME LIEUTENANT IN THE KANSAS RANGERS 
AND AFTERWARDS CAPTAIN IN THE TEXAN RANGERS 

EDITED BY E. W. WILLIAMS 

WITH PORTRAITS 

-r 



TORONTO 

THE MUSSON BOOK COMPANY, LIMITED 

1919 



ROlfcSO 3fc?5B 



CONTENTS . 

BOOK I 
WESTERN VIRGINIA, 1852-54 



CHAPTEK I 

PAGE 

WESTWARD HO ! .3 

Then and now — The Steerage of the Sutlej — Jack 
Galliers — Richmond, Virginia — The Canal Boat — 150 miles' 
tramp — A Veteran of 1812. 



CHAPTEK II 
a backwoodsman's home 13 

A Forest Farm — Primitive Customs — Jack's Opinion of 
them — My First Deer — On the Road to Princeton — The 
Inhabitants thereof. 

CHAPTER III 

THE FARM ON THE BLUESTONE .... 23 

A Court-day Gathering — George Baily and his Farm — I 
become a Land-owner — The Road-makers. 

CHAPTER [IV 

THE CAMP MEETING 32 

By Road and Canal to Richmond again — Jack and I at 
Work — Whiskey parts us — The Camp Meeting — Good Aunt 
Rhoda — Kindly Slave-owners. 



295883 



vi CONTENTS 

CHAPTER V 

PAGE 

DURANCE VILE ....... 39 

" Still " Hunting — Burnett and George Paris — Horse 
Trading — A Plausible Tale — I lose $250 — and nearly 
lose $3,000 — My Clever Dog — A Forest Fire — In the Prince- 
ton Gaol. 

CHAPTER VI 

A DANCE AND A FIGHT 48 

Jack Galliers again — Out on Bail — Settlement with 
Paris — A Rough and Tumble — Cattle -dealing — Sport in 
Western Virginia. 

CHAPTER VII 

ON THE ROAD TO KANSAS 59 

Slave-owning — Restrictions on moving Negroes — Ice on 
the Mississippi — Frost-bound in St. Louis — A Risky 
Acquaintance — The Ice breaks up, with ruin in its train. 



BOOK II 

KANSAS IN 1855-59 
CHAPTER I 

THE RIVAL PARTIES 73 

A 450-mile Ride — The Runaway's Death — " Johnny 
Cake " — Leavenworth " City " in 1855 — The " Boss " 
Gambler — House Building — Buffalo on the Prairie — First 
Meeting with Wild Indians — Causes of the Kansas " War " ; 
the Prelude of Secession. 

CHAPTER II 

WITH " THE BORDER RUFFIANS " . . . .83 

I join a Ranger Company — Stopping " Free Soilers " — 
The Sack of Lawrence — Murders at Lone Jack — Foraging 
leads to Shooting — Promoted 2nd Lieutenant — I Nar- 
rowly Escape Hanging — Stripped and Turned Loose. 



CONTENTS vii 

CHAPTER III 

PAGE 

CLAIM-MAKING, AND SQUATTER RIGHTS . . .93 

The Delaware Reserve Sales — Scenes at the Auction — 
Owner of a Gambling Saloon — Claim-making on the 
Shawnee Reserve — " Shad " the Frontiersman — Judge 
Lecompton — Attempt to Arrest Cline — Fracas at the 
Preaching — My Claim is "Jumped." 

CHAPTER IV 

THE ERAY AT MONTICELLO 103 

Settling down on Cedar Creek — Claim-jumpers Again — 
Wagon-master with Major & Russell — A Bully at a Dance — 
Shawnee Half-breed Girls — Sally Blue-Jacket — A Shawnee 
Execution — Member of Johnson County Board — Sunday 
at the Ranch — A Fight between Rival Squatter Associa- 
tions — Death of Molesby — A well-armed Funeral Party. 

CHAPTER V 

THE CAPTURE OF MILINER 114 

A Western Tornado — A Lawsuit re Cedar Creek Claim — 
A Western Water-wizard — A Cold-blooded Murder — A 
Stealthy Ride into Missouri — A Clever Catch — A Trial and 
a Fiasco. 

CHAPTER VI 

LAST DAYS IN KANSAS . . . , . .125 

Miliner Let Loose — A Trip to Fort Kearney with Forty- 
five Wagons — Through the Sioux Country — A Vast Herd of 
Buffalo — The Daughter of Tecumseh — Wintering Cattle for 
" Billy " Russell — Margaret Hendricks, a Typical Western 
Girl — Cline redivivus — His Threats of Vengeance — He 
takes out a Warrant, and I leave Kansas. 

CHAPTER VII 

KANSAS TO CANADA, AND THENCE TO TEXAS . .136 

Kidnapping on the Mississippi — Crossing the Alleghanies — 
Changes at Home — I revisit Monticello — Engineering at 
Philadelphia — There I meet Thompson — Go to Canada 
with him — We decide against Canada, and for Texas — The 
Journey thither — Landing at Indianola. 



viii CONTENTS 

BOOK III 

TEXAS, 1860-62 

CHAPTER I 

PAGE 

PROSPECTING 147 

Leave Hospitable Indianola, and. start Up Country — En 
route for the Nueces — Adventures by the Way — Camp 
Fare — The " Colonel " Grumbles — Short of Water — Mosqui- 
toes — Corpus Christi — A Fresh Outfit — Lawyer Davis — 
" The Colonel " and the Pack Pony — The Bandera Country 
— The Lost Horses — We Buy a Ranch — and stock it — Our 
Possessions — Texas goes for Secession — A Political Meeting 
— The Knights of the Golden Cross. 

CHAPTER II 

AN INDIAN FORAY 161 

Colonel Robert E. Lee — The Surrender of General Twig — 
I Join the Volunteers — The Deserted Mormon Settlement — 
The Expedition to Val Verde — " The Major " — My First 
Brush with Comanches. 

CHAPTER III 

THE VIGILANCE COMMITTEE'S WORK . . .172 

I go on Scout — 700 U.S. Troops Surrender — Thompson's 
deal with them — Mustered Out — Mixed Bathing — Dan 
Ragsdale — We Sell the Medio Ranch, and Buy Ragsdale's 
on the Frio — " Daddy " Green — The Horse-thief's Fate. 

CHAPTER IV 
A rancher's paradise 183 

Juan the Vaquero — First Ride to the Frio — The Finest 
Ranch in Texas — Riding up and down it — " The Colonel " 
goes Indian Hunting — and much enjoys it. 



CONTENTS ix 

CHAPTEK V 

PAGE 

ASA MINSHUL, PREACHER 195 

The War Fever — The Young Ranger's Fate — A Secret 
Society and its Head — Asa and the Rope — General Sibley 
and New Mexico — Third Trip to the Frio — My Pet Deer and 
its End — Colonel Sydney Johnson — A Patriarchal Proces- 
sion — The House-warming. 

CHAPTEK VI 

GENERAL HOOD 206 

" Hunting " on the Frio — " Lobos " and Coyotes — Co- 
manches on the Warpath — How they killed the Reeders — 
Fort Inge and Lieutenant, af terwards General, Hood — What 
he did at Gaines' Mill. 

CHAPTER VII 

THE HORSE-STEALERS .217 

" Calf -branding " — Running Mustangs and Stray Horses 
— Jack Vinton — Mexican Horse-thieves — Their Punishment 
— The War Fever — I catch it. 



BOOK IV 

IN THE CONFEDERATE SERVICE 
CHAPTER I 

ON THE BUSHWHACKERS' TRACK . . . .229 

Enlisted for the Front, but kept in Texas — Our Rascally 
Rulers — Fool's Errands of Sorts — A General's Inspection — 
Friedricksburg and the Bushwhackers — Martial Law as 
Administered by Dunn — A Rough March. 

CHAPTER II 

THE FIGHT — AND AFTER 242 

In a Mountainous Country — A Night Attack — The 
Germans lose heavily — Dastardly Work — Luck would like 
to Shoot me — With the Bearer Party to Fort Clark — How 
Luck paid me out. 



x CONTENTS 

CHAPTER III 

PAGE 

A RIDE FOR LIFE . 254 

To the Frio with Loo Oje — Indians in the Country — Buz- 
zards on the Frio — What we saw at the Crossing — One Hun- 
dred Yards' Start — A Lucky Shot — A Long Chase — What 
Dunn did with his Prisoners — Futile Efforts to quit his Com- 
mand — A Quarrel in Quarters — In Vino Veritas. 

CHAPTER IV 

THE FOUR MEXICAN DESERTERS .... 265 

Recruiting on the Frontier — Magruder at Galveston — A 
Restful Day at the Ranch — A " Doctor's " Diploma — The 
Killing of Antonio — I call in Asa Minshul — The Four Horse- 
men on the Prairie — The Capture, and After. 

CHAPTER V 

THE COTTON-STEALERS .277 

The March to Brownsville — The Hebrew's " Rifle 
Whiskey " — A Fandango — News from the Outer World — 
Am mistaken for a Deserter — The Officers of the 3rd Texas — 
A Yankee Brig Ashore — What befell her Cargo — Kaupmann 
and his Sixteen Garments — Cotton Dealings — The Prices of 
Goods. 

CHAPTER VI 

THE RAID INTO MEXICO . . . . .287 

The Yankees' Supposed Landing at Boca del Rio — The 
Funk at Brownsville — Scouts returning increase it — Wasp 
Fires the Barracks and Stores, and makes his celebrated 
Retreat to the San Gertrudes — Vidal " goes Fanti " — 
Plunders the Ranches, and joins Cortinas — Lawyer Davis 
turned Colonel — His Camp near Boca del Rio — Volunteers 
for a Mght Expedition — A Forty-mile Ride — Capture of the 
Mexican Guard House — Deserters' Camp Surprised — The 
Leaders Taken — Their Fate — I escort Davis to Magruder's 
Camp — His Subsequent Release — My Last Meeting with 
him. 



CONTENTS 



CHAPTEK VII 

PA.GE 

MY FRIEND GOES HOME . . . . . . 299 

Premature Rejoicings — Tricked out of a Commission 
Again — A Magnanimous Foe — Thompson Turns up at 
Brownsville — Yellow Fever — Nearly Convalescent — Has a 
Relapse — Nursing my Sick Friend — He tells me his Story 
— He goes " Home " at Sunrise — I Purchase a Substitute 
— I get a Mail at Matamoras. 

CHAPTEK VIII 

IN COMMAND AT LAST ! 310 

Sixes and Sevens at the Ranch— My Friend Johns — His 
Captive and his Pantaloons — The Renegades at Piedras 
Negras — Mustangs for Sale — A Charging Steer — Universal 
Conscription — A Commission from the Governor of Texas. 

CHAPTEK IX 

A LONG SCOUT 320 

A Two -hundred Mile Ride to Lorado— Make Permanent 
Camp for my command — Sport with " Lobos " and Coyotes 
— Join Major Hatch's Command on an Indian-hunt — 
He Misses his Chance — March to Fort Lancaster — Indian 
Paintings at Piedra Pintada — San Felipe Springs — Fort 
Hudson — Dan Westfall, the Trailer — Scouting with Dan — 
Crossing the Pecos. 

CHAPTEK X 
westfall's story 332 

The Camp in the " Mott " — A Fire and a Sleepless Night — 
A Sudden Attack — McCarthy's Answer — The Comanches 
Draw Off — Yarns round the Camp Fire — Dan Westfall tells 
His — The Notches on his Rifle — The Deserted Ranch on 
the Leona. 

CHAPTER XI 

THE DESERTERS SURRENDER ..... 343 

The Scouts Report a Band of Indians — I find it a Body 
of White Men — I call on Them to Surrender on Promise to 
Spare their Lives — The Leader Yields in Nick of Time — 



xii CONTENTS 

PAGE 

Major Hatch wants to Hang Them — My own Boys 
Support my Refusal — '' Now See to it that I haven't to 
Shoot You " — Fruitless Wanderings after Indians — Sent 
on Scout with Mexicans — Their Cowardice — We white men 
hold a Strong Position — No Water and no Tobacco ! — Eight 
of the Deserters Escape. 

CHAPTER XII 

WATER ! OR WE DIE ! 353 

A Dry March — The First Day without Water — The Major 
Still Obstinate — The Second Day without Water — The 
Third Day we can stand it no longer — A Disorganised 
Rabble — A Drink at Last — The Major and I Part — The 
Back Trail — A Difficult and Unknown Country — Westfall 
Brings us Through. 

CHAPTER XIII 

THE CALIFORNIA^ RAIDERS 363 

Magruder and " Commissary " Banks — Colonel Ford and 
his Merry Men — Resignation of Command and Re-election — 
The Expedition to Fort Lancaster — Major Hunter's Re- 
connaissance — The Enemy's False Security — A Night 
Attack — Surprise and Rout of Calif ornians. 

CHAPTER XIV 

THE JUMPING " BUCKS " 373 

An Unfortunate Spec. — Comanches Again — A Race for 
Cover — We Hold a " Mott " — Jack Hillson's Shot — A Chip 
of the Old Block — The Fight on the Hondo — Comanches in 
Strong Position — I Shoot the Big Buck — A Charge and a 
Surprise — The Indians Bolt. 

CHAPTER XV 

FRENCH OF THE LEONA 383 

Jim and Dick French — The Murder of the Mexicans — 
French senior Hanged in Front of the Padre's House in San 
Antonio — The Boys Agree to Bide their Time — Jim and 
Dick Avenge their Father's Death — I meet them at Atacosa 
Court House — Their Doings There — Their Search for Asa 
Minshul. 



CONTENTS xiii 

BOOK V 

THE BREAK-UP, AND AFTER 

CHAPTER I 

PAGE 

MY COMPANY'S LAST INDIAN FIGHT . . . 395 

The End of Secession — Activity of the Indians, Burning, 
Slaying, Scalping, on the Middle Nueces — They Kill the 
Cousin of my junior Lieutenant, Dan Williams — He and 
Fred English, the senior Lieutenant, set off in Pursuit — 
I Catch Them up too Late — How these Lads threw Away 
their Lives — A Near Thing — Keeping the^ Indians on the 
Run — Burying our Dead. 

CHAPTER II 

CATTLE-HUNTING ON THE CARISA .... 404 

The Ruin of the South— Clemency of the North— The 
Federals in San Antonio — Lenient Treatment of the Fried- 
ricksburg Murderers — The Federal General offers me a 
Captain's Commission — The Hunt for Lost Cattle — My 
Reception at my Friend's Ranch — A Morning's Fishing — I 
Nearly get Caught Myself. 

CHAPTER III 

THE " PRAIRIE SCHOONER " ON THE HILL . .415 

Heavy Going Stops Pursuit of Thieves — Return to the 
Carisa — News from the " Prairie Schooner " — To the Rescue 
— The Scene at the Camp Fire — The Wounded Man — Thirst 
for Vengeance — A Melancholy Procession — Cattle-driving 
on the Prairie — Voices of the Night — Working the Cha- 
parral — A Message from the Alcalde of San Juan. 

CHAPTER IV 

CATTLE-DEALING IN MEXICO , . . . .427 

" El Rio Bravo " — President Diaz — The Pueblo of San 
Juan — The Inhabitants Thereof — A Typical Mexican 
Village of those Days — The Houses and their Occupants — 
The Alcalde and his Venta — Arrieros to the Rescue ! — 



xiv CONTENTS 

PAGE 

" Liberales y los Coutrarios " — A Restless Night — Arrival of 
the Partido — Hiding the Cattle — Don Immanuel gives a 
Feast — A very Special Dish — The Deal Concluded — " Vaya 
te Con Dios ! " 

CHAPTER V 

DROVING TO NEW ORLEANS 438 

Start with 220 Prime Beeves — The Stampede — Twenty- 
five Head Lost — The Cotton Region — Ruin of the Planters 
— Conduct of the Freedmen — A Mulatto Slave-owner — ■ 
Thunderstorm in the Bush — Another Stampede — A Lucky 
Find — I Sell my Cattle on Border of Louisiana, but go with 
them to New Orleans — I go into a Hog Spec. — Hog-driving — ■ 
a Trial of Patience — Floundering Through an Icy Swamp — 
Ship 463 of the Brutes on ss. Tatan at Chafalaya Landing. 

CHAPTER VI 

A TEXAN RAILWAY . . . . . . 450 

At the Hog-pens — Waiting for the Verdict — Noel's two 
good Shots — The Market is Bad ! — I clear out at a Heavy 
Loss — New Orleans after the War — Artemus Ward's 
Lecture — The Keans in " Macbeth " — The Boss Gambler — 
The Tables Turned on Him — On the Magnolia to Indianola 
— Waiting for the Train — A Texan Station Master — " The 
Railroad's on the Tight ! " — The " Engineer " and his 
Boilers — Left in the Lurch — Conductor goes in search of 
the Train — Reach Victoria at Last — Thence by Stage to San 
Antonio, where I have News from Mexico. 

CHAPTER VII 

CATTLE IN SMALL COMPASS 461 

Return to the Frio — Cattle Droving to Monterey — A 
Quarrel on the Leona — My Last Brush with the Comanches 
— A Successful Deal and a Safe Return with the Plunder — I 
hand over the Ranch to Jack Vinton and start for San Antonio, 
en route for Home — Luxuries of Ocean Travel — England 
in the Leafy Month of June — Bad News from Texas — I 
Return to wind up my Affairs — Mr. Spofforth's Tempting 
Offer— The Firm of Hughes & Co., Beef Packers— Yellow 
Fever at Indianola — Dr. Hughes' Confrere — Sam Slocum — 
His Grievance against his "Ma" — The Packing Business 
a Failure — I sell my Ranch and Stock, and leaving Texas 
for good, settle down in England. 



INTRODUCTION 

He whose adventurous story is told in the following 
pages was born in the summer of 1831, the eldest of a 
large family, his father being a country clergyman. 

His father and mother intended him for the Church ; 
he himself had aspirations for the Army, or the Indian 
Service, but neither could be managed for lack of means. 

Finally he went to sea as a middy on Messrs. Green's 
East Indiaman the Madagascar, sailing from London in 
February, 1848, when he was nearly seventeen years old. 
Green's was in those days the best service in England ; 
but it was too staid, too quiet, for a youth like this, 
thirsting for adventure, so after one voyage to India he 
gave it up. 

After this he shipped as an ordinary seaman on a Liver- 
pool barque, bound for Callao to load with guano at the 
Pixo Islands. The ship, having got her evil-smelling 
cargo on board, returned to Callao, where the boy (he 
was only eighteen) deserted to escape the brutal ill- 
treatment of the captain. When the barque had sailed 
he emerged from his hiding-place in the pampas, and 
for some months worked as mate on board a small 
coasting brig. 

The gold fever in California was then at its height, and 
his next idea was to get to the new Eldorado if possible, 
where fortune awaited the fortunate and adventures 
were to be met with at every turn. But no passage 
was obtainable for love or money ; for every ship bound 
for San Francisco was full of eager gold-seekers and there 



xviii INTRODUCTION 

was no room for him. So at last, weary of waiting, he 
shipped as an A.B. on board a 600-ton barque, bound 
for Dundee with a cargo of guano. 

It is not proposed to tell his adventures on that leaky 
old tub, which took six months to roll herself round the 
Horn to the Cove of Cork. Suffice it to say that the 
miserable craft, like so many of her class in those bad 
days, was short of hands, short of provisions, short of 
water, short of everything, in fact, but that awful guano 
that pervaded everything on board. 

With a dislocated shoulder, and half dead with scurvy, 
the lad was discharged at Cork, and sent to hospital, 
whence, being then as tough a specimen of humanity as 
you could wish to see, he speedily made his way home, 
in no way the worse for his rough experiences. 

But he wouldn't give up the sea yet, and next went a 
voyage to Adelaide in a full-rigged emigrant ship named 
the Andromache, as third officer. From that port, which 
in the year of grace 1850 consisted of a few " frame " 
houses and many streets pegged out by speculators, they 
sailed for Melbourne, where the young ship's officer went 
wallaby-hunting with some friends over country now 
covered with villas and parks, and had good sport of its 
kind. 

When, after a brief holiday at home, the Andromache 
was due to sail again, he was persuaded to give up the 
sea, in the hope that he would settle down in England. 
So the good ship, with its full complement of passengers 
and crew, sailed from London without him, on what 
proved her last voyage, for she was never heard of more, 
and must have foundered with all hands somewhere on 
the stormy ocean. 

But he couldn't settle down to life in quiet England ; 
the restless craving for adventure was too strong on him, 
and if he must leave the sea, he would fare forth to the 
West and the backwoods of the Great Republic. So, 
after a brief apprenticeship to farming with the Vicarage 



INTRODUCTION xix 

tenant, he sailed from Liverpool on a small barque called 
the Sutlej, bound for City Point, Virginia. 

Having given this brief sketch of the opening chapters 
of an adventurous life, the rest of the story shall be told 
mainly in the words of the actor therein, from his notes 
and diaries, supplemented by many a yarn told by him 
to the writer as they smoked their pipes together by the 
happy fireside of the peaceful English home in which 
he lived, and in which he ended his days, full of years and 
full of honour. 

A strange, wild story it is too, and perhaps worth the 
telling, if only for the reason that the stage on which it 
was enacted has so completely changed that the scenes in 
which the adventurer took his part, and the life he led in 
the far West and South, can never recur as long as the 
world endures. Civilisation, railways, and the advancing 
tide of population have swept them into the limbo of 
forgotten things so completely that it is hard to realise 
that such a state of society could ever really have existed 
only forty or fifty years ago. 

The first act runs its course in Western Virginia 
amongst the then most primitive, simple, and manly 
race of farmers to be found in any part of the world. Far 
from railways, towns and civilisation, these simple folks 
led their pastoral lives in great content and comfort. All 
their wants were self-supplied, to their very clothes, 
which they spun and weaved and made themselves. 
Work on their farms, hunting and fishing, a visit to the 
distant " Court House " in the far-away town or village, 
with now and then a " preaching " or " camp meeting," 
filled their lives, and they were content. 

Act the Second has for its scene the wildest of the 
Wild West — Kansas — where in 1855-56 was fought the 
prelude to the great War of Secession, the epoch-making 
struggle between North and South, which settled once for 
all the burning question of slavery or freedom for the 
negro in the United States. In that border region, where 

c 



xx INTRODUCTION 

each man was a law unto himself, and life was not valued 
" at a pin's fee," deeds were done, on both sides, at which 
we may well shudder. 

The story is a dreadful one, but it is fairly and frankly 
told by him who took an active part on the pro-slavery 
side, and who never hesitated to risk his life for the cause 
he had espoused. 

Act the Third, after a brief interlude at home and in 
Canada, opens in Texas, on a cattle ranch, in the heart 
of the Comanche (Indian) country. 

Cattle raising and desperate fighting with the Co- 
manches, the most warlike of all the Indian tribes, fill 
the first scenes. 

Then comes the War of the Secession. 

Shortly after the end of the war in 1865, the curtain 
falls, and the story is finished. 



BOOK I 

WESTERN VIRGINIA 

1852-54 



CHAPTER I 

WESTWARD HO ! 

It was in the early spring of the year 1852 that I sailed 
from Liverpool to seek my fortune in the United States. 

Those who have not personally watched the growth 
of that marvellous country cannot realise the changes 
those fifty years have wrought, so long in a man's life, 
so short a span in a nation's history. Then there were 
thirty-one States in the Union with a population of about 
twenty-five millions ; now there are forty-one States, and 
the population verges on eighty million souls. Railways 
were comparatively few ; now there are nearly two 
hundred thousand miles in operation. 

When I first went West, in the early 'fifties, all the 
region west of the Missouri River to the Rocky Moun- 
tains, from about 35° N. to the limits of what are now 
the States of North Dakota and Montana, was inhabited 
only by roaming bands of Indians, except in Kansas and 
Nebraska, where there were a few settlers. Where to-day 
stand flourishing towns and cities, and over the plains 
where now is heard the busy hum of the steam reaping 
and thrashing machines, roamed countless thousands 
of buffalo ; as extinct to-day in those lands as the dodo 
is in his. 

But the greatest change that Time has brought, since 
I first knew the States, is the abolition of negro slavery. 

In those days the Southern States, with their great 
" Institution," were at the zenith of their power, and 
were ambitious of extending it beyond the boundary to 



4 WESTWARD HO! 

which they had been restricted by the Missouri Com- 
promise of 1820. 

I fought for that cause in Kansas, in what may be 
called the prelude to the great struggle between the North 
and South, and in Texas, and elsewhere, afterwards ; 
for in those days I believed in slavery, and owned some 
few negroes myself. Looking back through all these 
years, whilst I sit by my quiet, happy English fireside, I 
confess that I was mistaken, and freely admit that it is 
well the great fight ended as it did. But though I make 
this admission, I think it is only right to put it on record 
that, as far as my own personal observation went, the 
cruelties of slavery have been over-drawn. 

The separation of families, by the sale of the father, 
mother or children, was cruel and detestable. Doubtless 
there were here and there brutal masters, and worse 
overseers ; but these were the exception. Negroes, it 
must be remembered, were chattels, and most valuable 
chattels too, and it was the owner's interest to treat them 
well. On the great cotton plantations of the South, 
where the planter lived in patriarchal state, and owned 
perhaps two or three hundred slaves, or more, the negroes 
were generally well treated and happy enough, except for 
the overshadowing fear of separation. 

Slavery on the American Continent has vanished into 
the limbo of almost forgotten things ; the planter, with 
his opulent, easy-going life and boundless hospitality, 
is extinct, but the negro remains, and increases and 
multiplies, after his kind, and, as I gather, becomes a 
daily more and more difficult problem to deal with. 

It was in the month of February, 1852, being then a 
lad of twenty, but with some rough experiences at sea 
behind me, that I set sail from Liverpool in the Sutlej, a 
barque bound for City Point, Virginia. 

The capital I had at my disposal was £400, which my 
father had raised for me with some difficulty. Resources 



JACK GALLIERS 5 

had to be carefully husbanded, so I took a steerage 
passage, and shared the discomforts thereof with a party 
of emigrants going out to settle on lands in West Virginia. 
Most of these had been lured to try their fortunes in that 
forest land by the specious tongue of an agent in London, 
and had cause to rue the day they met him. I myself 
was one of his intended victims, but broke loose from his 
toils as soon as I saw the country in which he intended 
to bury me. 

Amongst many presents given me by kind friends I 
had a beautiful liver-coloured setter, bought at a great 
price for me by four kind lady friends, who lived together 
in my father's parish, and were a centre of peace and 
goodness for all the neighbourhood. I called the dog 
" Manor " after the house from which he came, and he 
was a true friend and companion to me until, to my 
great sorrow, I lost him some years after in the West. 

Amongst the emigrants I found a typical navvy from 
Lancashire, Jack Galliers by name, who for some reason 
took to me at once, appointing himself my henchman, 
looking after my dog, and my things, with much assiduity. 
He was a very fine specimen of that wonderful breed, 
the British navvy, which no other country, as far as I 
know, can produce. He dressed the part, too, to perfec- 
tion, in massive hob-nailed high-lows and moleskin 
garments. 

His contempt for America, and Americans, and all 
their ways and doings, was unbounded, nor did he ever 
attempt to disguise his sentiments. Indeed, so much 
was this the case that when, in his most candid moods, 
he would " dom " America, and all things therein, I often 
feared he would be mobbed. But no, the Virginians only 
seemed to marvel at him and his ways, as though he had 
been some strange denizen of an unknown land. When 
he clenched his " fistises " and bragged what he could do 
with them, or boasted that " my country," as he always 
called it, was^far better than theirs, they only laughed, 



6 WESTWARD HO! 

and treated him to whiskey, of which poor Jack could 
swallow any quantity. Then they would get him to 
sing, which he did readily enough in a fine, mellow 
tenor ; or dance a clog dance in those thundering 
high-lows, to their intense amusement. So Jack, his 
eccentricities notwithstanding, became a most popular 
character wherever he went, and I had no more anxiety 
on his behalf. 

The old Sutlej was loaded with pig-iron and made 
very bad weather of it, so it was six weeks before we 
dropped anchor in the James River. It was a Sunday 
morning, and a lovely spring day, so I borrowed a boat 
and, with a few of my fellow-passengers, pulled ashore. 

We found ourselves on a tobacco plantation, and there 
first saw negro slavery in the States. The planter, who 
received and welcomed us most hospitably, owned about 
three hundred negroes, who seemed to be very happy and 
contented, as far as we could see. He also owned a pack 
of fox-hounds, of which he was very proud. 

Returning to the ship, we found a tug waiting to take 
us all up the river to Richmond, about twenty miles, for 
the Sutlej could not cross the bar. 

Arrived there, Jack and I, and some seven more, who 
had attached themselves to us, found accommodation in 
a small hotel. We were, no doubt, a strange enough 
looking party, and the natives were much puzzled to 
make us out. When, however, Jack began to show off, 
and Manor to do his tricks, at which he was very clever, 
they made up their minds we were showmen on tour, and 
I did not undeceive them. 

I had a letter of credit on a merchant firm in Richmond 
on whom I called at once. The partners were most 
friendly and tried to persuade me to remain in the town, 
instead of going up country. But I had made up my 
mind to see what it was like at any rate, and told them I 
would go, but would leave my money with them, except 
what I wanted for current expenses. 



THE CANAL BOAT 7 

These gentlemen kindly gave me full particulars of 
the route, which was first by canal passenger-boat to 
Buchanan, the head of navigation, and some sixty miles 
above Lynchburg, the great centre of the tobacco trade, 
and the second largest slave market in the States. From 
Buchanan we had to make our way across country, some 
150 miles on foot, as best we might, to Wyandotte 
County, West Virginia. 

When I told my plans to Jack he " dommed " the 
country with much emphasis, but said he would go any- 
where with me, and five others elected to join the party. 
So after a brief stay in Richmond we left the quiet town, 
little thinking that, in ten years' time, the eyes of the 
world would be anxiously fixed upon it, whilst the Titanic 
struggle between North and South waxed ever more 
desperate and bitter. 

Canal passenger-boats are things of the past, and pity 
it is they are so, if one were not in a hurry to finish one's 
journey. Towed by two horses, we pursued our leisurely 
way so slowly that passengers wanting exercise could 
get out and walk, and easily keep up with the conveyance. 

The scenery was beautiful, and the weather superb 
with bright sunshine and cool refreshing airs. 

Certainly the domestic arrangements on board our 
craft were somewhat primitive, though the attendance 
was good and the cooking excellent. She was much 
crowded, chiefly with merchants returning up country 
with their summer goods, and many had their wives and 
daughters with them. These latter slept, and went 
through certain only partially concealed ceremonies, 
behind a curtain stretched across the saloon. In this we 
all took our meals, and we used it as a sitting-room till 
9 p.m., when it at once became the most crowded 
dormitory I ever saw. The washing had to be done 
in one or two pewter basins, beside which hung three 
or four towels, brushes and combs, and tooth-brushes, 
for public use. 



8 WESTWARD HO! 

I think the use of the latter was " more honoured in 
the breach than in the observance," but they were used 
by some. 

Arrived at Buchanan, our voyage, on which I had 
made many pleasant friends, was ended, and I was sorry 
it was. 

Having got directions from many friends " on board," 
the next morning after our arrival saw our queer-looking 
party on the road, with a weary tramp of about 150 
miles before us ; Manor, I believe, being the only one 
who really enjoyed it. Heavy baggage was left behind, 
each one carrying only what was necessary. The 
stalwart Jack insisted on carrying my bundle for me, 
and cheerfully backed it the whole way. 

We proposed to do thirty miles a day, and actually 
made our first point, Henderson French's plantation, on 
Brush Creek, Mercer County, a distance of 120 miles, 
in five days ; not bad going for foot-sore wayfarers, such 
as we were. How Jack anathematised the country, its 
roads, its people, and all therein, as he trudged along 
with his double burden, and how the simple folk in their 
solitary little farms wondered at him, and all his 
ways ! 

French was a well-to-do middle-aged bachelor, a mem- 
ber of the State Senate, and the owner of the lands 
we had been inveigled out to settle. He was, moreover, 
a very shrewd Yankee. Approaching his plantation, 
with weary feet, we trudged, for a mile or so, through a 
fertile valley which had been heavily timbered, but where 
now the trees had been deadened by " belting," and 
stood gaunt and sombre skeletons. The undergrowth 
had been grubbed up, and the grass was springing in its 
place. Here and there were bunches of cattle, and a few 
hundred sheep scattered about. 

Wondering what our future would be, and whether it 
was destined to be fixed in this spot, and what reception 
we should meet with from the man we had travelled so 



DOCTOR COOK 9 

far to see, we presently came out on the clearing, in which 
stood his homestead, a long, one-storey frame house. 

French was very friendly, and called up his manager 
and his wife to help look after us, an English couple of 
the servant class, who had come out about a year before. 
It was pleasant to see cheerful English faces in that dis- 
tant land, and to receive the kindly greeting of these good 
folks, who were as pleased to behold their fellow-country- 
men again as we were to find them so unexpectedly. 

Besides this excellent couple, French had eight negro 
slaves, and was a prosperous man for those parts. 

After a day's rest, a Doctor Cook appeared on the 
scene to conduct us to French's lands, on which we were 
supposed to settle. This man was an English medical 
man, who had been trapped into coming out to Western 
Virginia, as we had been, by the Yankee's London agent ; 
having been an innocent pigeon when first caught, he had 
now developed into a rook, and acted as French's agent 
and decoy for simple Britishers. 

The lands lay in three different counties, the nearest 
point being sixty miles distant, so to see them a good 
long tramp was necessary. Very early in the morning 
we started off on our journey, all but Cook being on foot. 
That gentleman knew too much about the country to 
walk, so took his horse and saddle-bags. 

Our route lay over ridges and hills of moderate height 
intersected by valleys, through which ran clear, bright 
streams, like English trout brooks, and here and there 
from out the hillsides burst springs of cool water. By 
bridle-tracks and forest paths we wandered on under 
the splendid timber. Glorious oaks were plentiful, of 
three different kinds, and the rest of the forest growth 
was mainly chestnut, walnut, maple, sugar maple, and 
" Wachoo." 

The trunks of these often shot up seventy feet, straight 
as an arrow, before throwing out a branch : a sight to 
gladden the heart of a timber merchant, if only he could 



10 WESTWARD HO! 

get his wood to market ; but what possibility was there 
of making a living, to say nothing of a fortune, by clearing 
such land for farming purposes ? Young as I was, the 
impossibility of the thing became more apparent to me 
the farther we went into the great depths, though our 
friend the Doctor wasted much eloquence in pointing 
out the richness of the land and the great advantages 
of the country for settlers. 

Game abounded in these solitudes, and deer would 
jump up close to the path, whilst turkeys and pheasants 
would calmly survey us till Manor made a dash and 
scattered them ; but unfortunately no one carried a 
gun, for we had enough to carry without that. 

Settlements were indeed few and far between, and 
those only log cabins of the poorest. After a twenty-five 
mile walk we reached one of these, the owner of which 
took us in and fed us on bacon and maize corn bread, the 
staple food of the country. The Doctor took the only 
bed, and we, his victims, shook down as best we might, 
on the floor. 

The next morning, after a delightful wash at the 
spring, off we set again, for another twenty or thirty 
miles' tramp, and, passing through the same lovely 
scenery and the same heavily timbered country, at 
nightfall reached the cabin of two English brothers, 
Walker by name. These unfortunates had been per- 
suaded by our friend the Doctor into buying some of 
French's land. The cabin, and all its surroundings, 
seemed hopeless and wretched, and its owners absolutely 
unfitted for roughing it in such a country. 

Our arrival only added to their misery, poor fellows, 
for I brought with me two of their younger brothers, lads 
of sixteen and fourteen respectively. They had been 
sent out by their step-father, who probably didn't care 
what became of them so he was rid of them, and had 
joined our party for the journey from Buchanan. 

I felt sad and sorry for their plight, but could do 



MAJOR WALKER 11 

nothing to help them. We parted next morning, when 
we resumed our weary way, and I know not what befell 
them thereafter. But I know that, within two years 
from that time, two English settlers in the same 
district, one a retired sea-captain, found a way out 
of their miseries by their own hands. 

More and more it was growing plain to me that it 
would never do to buy any of French's lands ; for I 
could not live on scenery, however beautiful, and to 
clear anything like a farm, of that terribly heavy timber, 
even with the valiant Jack's assistance, was beyond 
my strength. 

At our next halt my growing resolve to cut loose from 
the toils of the wily Cook was confirmed by our host, 
who was a " Major " Amos Walker, Justice of the Peace, 
and Surveyor of Wyoming County. The old gentleman 
(he was nearly eighty) was a very fine specimen of the 
American of almost pre-revolutionary days. His father 
had been killed in the revolutionary war, fighting under 
General Washington, and he himself had fought under 
Andrew Jackson (" Old Hickory ") in the War with Eng- 
land of 1812. To me, he was most kind and courteous, 
and a real friend, as long as I remained in Virginia, 
but " Britishers," collectively, he abused roundly, and 
hated with a pious hatred. 

I took to the Major at once, for there was that in his 
personality which invited confidence. I therefore told 
him frankly how I was situated, what available funds I 
had, etc., etc., and asked his advice. He at once most 
strongly recommended me to have nothing to do with 
French's settlement, but to go on to Princeton, Mercer 
County, where the country was less mountainous and 
more settled, and where land, well situated, could be 
bought for less money than Cook was asking his dupes. 

Accordingly, when the Doctor mustered his little party 
the following morning I told him that neither the land 
nor the country suited me, and bade him good-bye. 



12 WESTWARD HO! 

Jack decided to follow my fortunes. Cook was very 
irate, and blustered a bit, but finding that no good, 
finally rode off. I watched the little party, which now 
mustered about twelve, till it disappeared under the 
grand timber on the mountain side, and never saw any 
of its members again. 

I stayed on with the Major, at his pressing invitation, 
for a week, and as his mode of life was typical of the best 
class of backwoodsmen of those far-off days, I propose to 
describe it more particularly in the following chapter. 



CHAPTER II 

a backwoodsman's home 

On the last day's journey with the Doctor, as the sun was 
sinking in the west, our party, weary, footsore and de- 
jected, followed a narrow bridle-path descending into a 
dip between the timber-clad ridges. Wider it grew, and 
more distinct, and then we came suddenly out of the 
forest shade into a clearing, in which stood a good-sized 
log house. The owner thereof came out, and welcomed 
us all most kindly. It was a blessed relief to know our 
day's tramp was over and that we had found rest and 
hospitality. 

The Major's family consisted of his wife, an elderly 
lady, two unmarried daughters, and a son of about 
nineteen years old. These, with a little occasional help, 
had cleared the land, raised the corn, tended the stock, 
carded, spun, wove and made up their clothing, and 
indeed were self-contained and self-supporting. Theirs 
was perhaps not a very refined life, and certainly it 
was not luxurious, but it was one of abundance and 
contentment. 

The cabin, built of logs, and chestnut-shingle roofed, 
was two-storied, and contained only two rooms, each 
about twenty feet by eighteen feet, with floors of split 
timber. In the sitting-room was a huge fireplace in 
which blazed a cheerful fire of hickory logs. Close 
behind the house stood the kitchen, and a little farther 
away a milk house, spring house, a small stable and 
cow-house, all of course of logs. 

13 



14 A BACKWOODSMAN'S HOME 

Round the homestead the great forest trees, such as 
oaks, chestnuts, hickories and gums, had been left 
standing in all their beauty, and were then clad in the 
fresh greenery of spring, but in the little clearing of 
about fifty acres the timber had all been " deadened," 
and still stood gaunt and weird, mere ghosts of trees. 

The stock the Major owned got a good living in the 
woods nearly all the year round. 

The old lady, as kindly and hospitable as her husband, 
was very proud of her poultry, of which she had a good 
show, and of her " bee gums," or hives. These, with her 
weaving, fully occupied her time. 

Such was the Major's establishment, and as it was 
typical of the best class of forest farms in those days, I 
have fully described it. 

I often wonder how many of such are to be found now, 
or whether civilisation and progress have stamped them 
out ? It was a simple, manly, independent life, and pity 
it is if it has quite vanished. 

The domestic arrangements, especially those for sleep- 
ing, were decidedly primitive, but they were a matter of 
course throughout that country, and it never entered 
into any one's head to think evil of them, though male 
guests and the unmarried sons and daughters of the 
house slept in the same room upstairs, whilst the old folk 
usually, as in this case, slept below. I can aver that in 
all my experience of Western Virginia I never heard a 
whisper of impropriety arising from this condition of 
things. 

Anything of the sort would have received sharp and 
sudden retribution at the hands of father or brother, 
who were always armed with rifle and six-shooter, and 
would not have scrupled to use them. 

When bed-time came, the boys of the house and the 
guests lay down, half dressed, in their bunks, on beauti- 
fully clean linen, as a rule. Then the girls slipped in, and 
all was silence. 



JACK ON PROPRIETY 15 

At the first streak of dawn the girls slipped out, as 
quietly as they had come. Then after an interval the 
men turned out, and on the gallery stood cedar buckets 
of cool, clear water in which one's ablutions were per- 
formed. Some one, usually one of the girls, " poured 
water," — i.e. into one's hands, — and so the washing was 
done, not always with soap, which in those parts was a 
scarce commodity. 

As soon as the Doctor and his victims had gone, my 
friend the Major warmly congratulated me on cutting 
loose from him and his land scheme, and I felt happier 
than for many a day. I had £400 to my credit, and with 
youth, health, strength, and boundless possibilities before 
me, the world looked very bright. Looking back through 
all these long years of life, with their chequered joys and 
sorrows, that day seems one of the brightest. 

Major Walker pressed me in the kindest way to stay 
with him as long as I liked, and I, partly because I had 
taken a great liking for the fine old fellow, and partly 
because I knew he would be glad of help to get his corn 
in, accepted for Jack and myself for one week certain. 

After the manner of his kind, for no creature on this 
earth can, or will, work like a British navvy, Jack set to 
at his task, and fairly astonished the natives with his 
energy. Buttermilk and coffee were the only drinks 
available in place of his well-beloved beer. He 
" dommed " vigorously, but he drank them and worked 
untiringly. 

In his hob-nailed high-lows, the pride of his life, he 
looked down from a serene height on his host's family, 
who, for the most part, went bare-footed, and were not 
ashamed. 

Jack's sense of propriety was terribly shocked by this 
state of things, to which he could not reconcile himself, 
and ever and anon would burst out with : " What'd they 
say in my country if farmers and landowners trampled 
round bare-footed ? Dom such a country, says I." 



16 A BACKWOODSMAN'S HOME 

For myself I worked but little, as Jack worked for both 
of us. Most of the time I spent in the woods with the 
Major's old Kentucky rifle, and Manor for a companion, 
and many a grey squirrel and coon we bagged ; or, when 
horses could be spared, rode with Walker to some settle- 
ment ten or twelve miles away, learning all I could from 
my old friend about the country and its ways. Always 
our path lay over lofty ridges and down deep ravines ; 
and everywhere the same magnificent timber grew and 
flourished. A most beautiful country to look upon, but 
hopeless from a settler's point of view. 

One night Council Walker, the son, took me to a 
" deer lick," in a creek about two miles off. A " deer 
lick " is a saline spring, the flavour of which is irresistible 
to all the Cervidae. I was to do the shooting, and he 
would carry the torch of fat pine wood. 

At eight o'clock we set out. There was no moon, and 
though the stars shone brightly it was pitch dark in the 
forest, showing up the gleam of the fireflies (called by 
Council " lightning-bugs ") most brilliantly. 

On the bank of the creek, opposite the lick, was a 
" blind " for concealment, and behind it a hole in the 
ground to keep a smouldering fire in. When a deer comes 
to suck, the torch is lighted, and shown for a moment ; 
the deer raises its head and gives the watcher a shot. 

Behind the blind we lay for what seemed to me hours 
Only the distant bay of a wolf, the smothered growl of a 
panther, or the hooting of an owl broke the solemn 
silence of the forest. 

What if " buck ague " should attack me ? This was 
my first chance at a deer, and the very fear of the attack 
almost brought it on. Presently Council touched me on 
the shoulder, and whispered under his breath, " Look 
out ! " 

Down the steep side of the creek I could hear a deer 
coming — almost my heart stopped beating. On he came, 
halted and snorted. Did he wind us, and would he go 



MY FIRST BUCK 17 

thundering off into the woods with his hinds ? No ; he 
stepped into the creek, and I could hear him suck. 

What a moment of excitement ! Council laid his 
torch in the embers and quietly blew it into a flame. 
My rifle was in the rest, but my hand shook so, I felt 
sure I should miss my shot. 

The bright light shone for an instant above the blind ; 
the buck raised his head to stare at it. I set my teeth, 
pulled myself together, and let drive. There was a 
plunging and a splashing in the pool, and all was still. 

We rushed out, and there lay a fine buck of five points, 
stone dead, with a bullet just behind the shoulder. Many 
I have shot since at licks, or by stalking, or driven by 
hounds, but this, my first triumph, I can never forget. 

In the evenings we would all sit round the great fire- 
place, our only light the smouldering hickory logs on the 
hearth. The Major did most of the talking. He had an 
inexhaustible store of anecdotes, and recollections of the 
stirring times in the early part of the century, and talked 
remarkably well. Andrew Jackson he regarded as the 
greatest general, hero, and statesman of the age. He 
had much to say about the " effete " British aristocracy. 
It was always " Britain " and " British," never 
England and English, with him. 

Though professing great contempt for the worn-out 
old country, there was evidently behind it all a firm belief 
in the greatness of the race from which he sprang, and in 
its lofty destiny. But he always wound up by saying 
" the Eagle would whip creation." 

So passed a most pleasant week away, and then I 
parted with my kind host, with much shrewd advice 
from him, and a very warm invitation to stay with him 
again should I finally elect to settle in Western Virginia. 
Then Jack shouldered my bundle as usual, and off we 
set, in very good fettle, as he called it, after our week's 
rest from walking. 

Princeton, our destination, was about forty miles 

2 



18 A BACKWOODSMAN'S HOME 

away ; but time being no object we took it leisurely, and 
halted long before sundown at a farm owned by Emmanuel 
Jenks, a great character, who kept whiskey and sold it. 
Jack, you may be sure bought it, but I don't remember 
that he overstepped the bounds of what was moderation 
for him. 

Jenks had taken a contract to make a " county road " 
about fifty miles long, and much coveted Jack to help at 
the work. He offered him big wages, but Jack elected to 
stick to me, though road-making was an occupation dear 
to his heart. 

By Jenks's advice we made up our minds to put up 
the next day at the house of a friend of his, Absalom 
Lusk by name, about ten miles out of Princeton. The 
road, or rather track, led us through the same heavily 
timbered country, over lofty ridges and into deep valleys. 
It was even more stony and rougher than usual ; the 
day was hot, and Jack " dommed " the road with an 
added energy that surprised even me. However, at 
about six o'clock we arrived at Lusk's cabin and clearing, 
and received a hearty welcome. 

As usual he and his wife, his sons and daughters, did 
the work of the farm, including the raising of a small 
crop of tobacco. 

Absalom was a strong Methodist, so at nine o'clock the 
women-folk stopped their wheels, all talking ceased, and 
the father read a chapter from the Bible ; a hymn was 
sung, a short extemporary prayer said, and the service 
was over. Jack probably, in all his experience, had never 
been present at the like, and seemed dumfounded at 
the proceedings. 

Bed-time had come, and we all turned in ; Jack being, 
for the first time, admitted to the upper room where, as 
usual, the boys and girls slept. Circumstances make us 
acquainted, it is said, with strange bedfellows, and that 
night Jack and I slept together ! 

I may say that he did not regard these customary 



PRINCETON 19 

arrangements with any favour, but loudly asked me next 
morning what they would say to it in " my country." 
Indeed it was all I could do to keep him from making 
unpleasant remarks about it to our kind host. 

After breakfast we set off again on our travels, the 
good folks utterly refusing to accept any payment for 
our entertainment, and saying they would be glad to 
see us again if we passed that way. 

Presently we began to hear the tinkle of many cow 
and sheep bells in the woods, and knew we must be nearing 
the settlement or town. Coming suddenly upon it, after 
being buried so many days in the interminable woods, it 
seemed quite a place, though in reality the houses were 
but few, and they all frame or log built ; not a brick in 
any of them, except in the chimneys, now and then. 

We put up at a " tavern," kept by one Joe Alvis, which 
was a fairly large frame house, painted white, two stories 
high, and with a wide gallery, or verandah, round it. 
The host and his wife were pleasant people, and the 
terms, $3 a week, all found, reasonable enough ; so I 
soon made up my mind to stay with them while looking 
about me. 

It was very quickly " orated round " that two strangers, 
belonging to an emigrant party, were staying at Alvis's, 
and that one of them was looking out for land. So that 
same evening, whilst Jack and I smoked the pipe of 
peace on the gallery, after supper, a party of all sorts 
and sizes collected to see what kind of people had dropped 
down upon them. 

No wonder they were curious, for in those days for- 
eigners or emigrants were rarcz aves indeed, and " store 
clothes " seldom seen west of the " Blue Ridge." 

Amongst our visitors was Ben McNutt, the Sheriff of 
the County ; Judge Hale, formerly Probate Judge, but 
now a merchant and practising lawyer, who had the 
best house in the town, and a merchant who had come 
up with us on the canal boat to Buchanan, and was most 



20 A BACKWOODSMAN'S HOME 

friendly and cordial in his greeting. Whilst I chatted 
with these, the others had been taking stock of Jack, 
examining with curiosity and wonder his tremendous 
navvy boots, the like of which had never been seen in 
those parts. The kindly, open-handed folks quickly 
made friends with him, and then took him round to the 
little bar, where they plied him with whiskey. 

Unlimited beer, of the strongest, was Jack's native 
drink, but he took kindly to the new one, and soon grew 
very boastful as to his powers, especially with his 
" fistises." All was taken in good part, however, and I 
believe he was looked upon as a fine specimen of that 
strange creature, the " Britisher." 

Some one expressed wonder that he could walk at all 
in such boots. " Walk ! Dommee," said Jack, " I'll 
soon show you," and, a fiddle being brought by a nigger, 
danced a thundering breakdown, to the huge delight 
of the spectators. Then he sang song after song to 
them, only stopping when no longer able to articulate, 
and finally retired to bed the most popular man in all 
Princeton ! 

That night I felt happier than since I had been in 
Virginia, for I had found friendly and kindly people with 
whom I could get along, as I thought, and I made up my 
mind to settle in the neighbourhood, if I could find land 
to suit me. 

I was told by my kind friends in the place, who all 
invited me, one after the other, to their houses, that the 
" Court " was held in Princeton Court House, once a 
month. This answered to our Petty and Quarter Sessions, 
rolled into one, and all the neighbourhood flocked into 
the town on the great day, either on business or pleasure 
bent. As next " Court day " was only ten days off, I 
determined to hold my hand till then, and make my 
headquarters at Alvis's house. 

Finding I had no use for Jack till I got my land, I 
paid his bill, gave him a few dollars, and sent him back 



MY FIRST HORSE 21 

to Jenks, who wanted him so badly for road making. 
He departed, vowing he would come back directly I 
wanted him, and as he disappeared I confess I felt quite 
lonely. 

Now the desire came upon me to buy a horse. I had 
never owned one of my very own since the days of my 
early boyhood, when I had had a pony ; and to become 
the possessor of a horse is, I believe, the height of every 
youngster's ambition. Moreover, a horse was a necessity 
to enable me to get about and inspect the country. 
Accordingly, hearing of a colt owned by a man named 
Carr, which Alvis said was the best in the country, and 
could be bought for $60, I determined to purchase it. 

I bought a saddle and bridle in Vance's store, and 
set out, carrying these, for Carr's place eight miles from 
Princeton, where I arrived after a terribly hot walk, 
which the thought that I should ride back helped me to 
endure. 

I must confess that I was green enough in those days, 
and being eager to buy, was just such a victim as any 
dealer would consider his natural prey. Well, next 
morning I bought the colt, and paid my $60, saddled 
him, and rode off proud and happy in my new pos- 
session. I soon found he was scarcely " bridle- wise," 
and I fancy had never been ridden before ; moreover 
he was a terrible slug ; but he was a horse, and he was 
mine ! Solemnly I rode into Princeton, and put my 
mount up at Joe Alvis 's, who praised my judgment and 
said I had got a bargain. 

Before Court day came I rode my steed many a mile, 
and got to know most of the settlers within a radius 
of twenty miles of the town. What a hospitable, kindly 
folk they were, making you welcome wherever you chose 
to go ! 

One good friend I remember making on one of these 
trips — " Squire " White, who lived about ten miles out. 
Though his surroundings and mode of life were most 



22 A BACKWOODSMAN'S HOME 

primitive, much like Major Walker's, he had been a 
member of the State Legislature, and was the Chairman 
of the County Sessions ; a position analogous to that of 
our Chairman of Quarter Sessions, only with more power. 
Life and social customs in that Western land were 
totally different from those of the old country, and im- 
pressed me very much in their favour. Every white 
man, however poor, if he were honest and decently 
behaved, was socially the equal of those in power and 
authority ; and to gain power and position it was not 
necessary to be wealthy, only to be popular ; in fact, to 
be a man. My friend the " Squire," for instance, worked 
his farm with the assistance of his family, and lived as 
roughly and plainly as his neighbours, yet was a man of 
influence in his County. Raw lad that I was, I was at 
once on terms of equality with him, and felt myself 
raised to a higher platform by the friendship of such a 
man. 



CHAPTER III 

THE FARM ON THE BLUESTONE 

" Court day " came, and by 10 a.m. the little town was 
crowded by the farmers from far and near. Singly, and 
in parties of three or four, or more, they rode up the 
straggling main street, and I watched them with great 
interest, as probable neighbours and friends in the near 
future. 

For the most part they were fine, stalwart men, heavy 
of bone and light of flesh, with the keen, sharply cut 
features characteristic of the native-born American. 
Some were mounted on good horses, and others on wiry 
Indian ponies, but all, young and old, rich and poor, 
were clad in homespun ; I don't think there was a suit 
of " store clothes " in all the crowd. Each man carried 
his rifle, and could handle it well too. 

Presently the Court House, the taverns, of which there 
were two, and the little stores became crowded by the 
visitors, and things began to " hum " in quiet little 
Princeton. 

Business in the Court and in the stores finished, the 
taverns filled, and friends treated each other, all meeting 
on terms of perfect equality. Judges, magistrates, 
lawyers, farmers, tavern-keepers, all met as social equals, 
and there was no such thing as stand-offishness amongst 
them. Coming freshly from the old country, where 
social grades were then so much more clearly defined 
than they are even nowadays, this state of things struck 
me very forcibly. Evidently it was a country where a 



24 THE FARM ON THE BLUESTONE 

man was valued for what he was, not for what he had, and 
the more I saw of it, the better I liked it. 

Before the Court adjourned, I made my " declaration 
of intention " to become an American citizen, and in due 
course, after the necessary interval, became naturalised. 

As it was known that I was a possible buyer of land, 
every one who had it to sell sought my acquaintance, 
pressed me to drink, and to come out and stay with them 
at their farms. Indeed, my society was in such request, 
and my health so frequently pledged that, if I had re- 
ciprocated in all cases, my own must have been seriously 
impaired ; as it was, I managed to keep sober, though 
with some difficulty. 

Joe Alvis had mentioned a farm on the Bluestone 
River, about twelve miles from Princeton, belonging to 
one Mr. George Baily, as likely to suit me. The old 
gentleman, he said, was heavily in debt, and anxious to 
sell out and move West. Baily and his two sons, Thomp- 
son and Council, were presently introduced by Alvis, 
and of course a move was made to the bar, though the 
old fellow was already, what shall we say — " forrard " ? 
Next came a most pressing invitation to come out to 
the farm with them that night, and stay as long as I 
cared to, which I accepted. 

George Baily was a remarkably fine specimen of the 
Western Virginian farmer, who carried his years (he was 
about sixty), and his whiskey, wonderfully well. Over 
six feet in height, spare and straight as a shingle, with 
finely cut features, dressed in homespun " blue jeans " 
though he was, he looked a gentleman of Nature's own 
fashioning. 

It was seven o'clock in the evening before the old 
gentleman could be persuaded to mount, and then, John 
Gilpin like, he stuffed two bottles of whiskey into his 
saddle-bags, one on each side ; he must have had at least 
a quart inside him, but seemed none the worse for it. It 
was a lovely moonlit night, and for six miles we had a 



VIRGINIAN CURIOSITY 25 

fairly good road, which after that dwindled down to a 
dimly shadowed track between the lofty forest trees. 

We started from Princeton quite a large party, though 
we shed the most of them in a few miles, by narrow tracks 
leading off to their respective farms. Many a cheery 
good-night and good-bye were given me by these kindly 
folks, and many a pressing invitation to come and stay 
with them, should I settle in those parts. I never met 
anywhere a more kindly race than these Virginians, and 
youngster that I was, a stranger in a strange land, their 
friendliness was very cheering. 

One thing struck me as very curious, in that day's 
experience. Many of my newly found friends asked if 
I were really a Britisher, because I spoke such good 
English ! What could they have expected me to speak ? 
I never found that out. One fine old fellow, after looking 
me well over, remarked, " I like your eye, it is blue and 
clear." Another said, " I see you wrap your fingers in 
gold," alluding to three rings given me before I left home, 
and which I then wore. 

When we arrived at Baily's log house it was 9.30 p.m., 
and the old lady was somewhat crusty at first, not being 
used to such late hours. However, she soon came round 
and bade me a kindly welcome, the boys took the horses, 
and I entered what was to be my first very own home. 

Let me describe it. On the ground floor, a single 
room, with unglazed windows, about eighteen feet square, 
at one end a wide fireplace, and, stuck in the logs by the 
side of it, a torch of pine splinters for light ; at the other 
end a staircase leading to the room above. On one side 
a comfortable-looking bed for the old folks, and on the 
other a table, and raw-hide-bottomed chairs. Upstairs 
there were five beds, but no other furniture. 

The two girls soon had supper ready, coffee, corn- 
bread, bacon and eggs, very welcome to hungry mortals. 
Baily produced one of his bottles and insisted that all 
ghoulcl partake, but the ladies declined. Supper over, 



26 THE FARM ON THE BLUESTONE 

Mrs. Baily said, " I reckon you would like to lie down," 
to which I readily agreed ; so Council showed me up- 
stairs, with a pine splinter, by the light of which I saw 
girls' raiment hanging on the walls. 

That night I slept the sleep of the weary, and heard 
no sound till dawn, when I was aware of a light rustling, 
and peeping out, saw the girls putting on their frocks. 
With their bare feet they noiselessly vanished, and then 
the two boys and I followed. It was 5 a.m., and in the 
soft bright sunlight the scene was lovely ; for all round 
the house was a peach and apple orchard in full bloom, 
and through the sunlit vistas between the blossom-laden 
trees, glimpses of the sparkling, shining river could be 
caught alive with fish, rising for the flies that skimmed 
the surface. I stood at the door a brief moment, entranced 
and spellbound by the beauty of the scene. It seemed 
a veritable paradise, and I resolved to become its Adam, 
if possible. 

Then the inevitable Eve broke the spell by wishing 
me a pleasant good-morning and asking if she could 
" pour water " for me. It was Lizzie Baily, the youngest 
daughter of the house, barefooted and homespun-clad, 
as were her mother and sisters, but full of courtesy, and 
of gentle manners. Indeed, all were full of kindly 
hospitality, and I felt at once quite at home with them. 

Already the day's work had begun ; the cows were 
milked, the horses fed, I looking after my own ; and then, 
by seven o'clock, we all sat down to breakfast, the bill of 
fare the same as at supper. After breakfast old Baily 
insisted on a modicum of whiskey, and then started out 
with me for a long day's walk round the farm, as fresh 
and "fit," his overnight potations notwithstanding, as 
though he knew not the flavour of spirits. 

The farm, or estate, was nearly a thousand acres in 
extent. Below the orchard, sloping down to the river, 
was a field of timothy grass, of thirty acres, and beyond 
this the clear-running shallow river, thirty yards wide. 



A STROLL ROUND 27 

On the opposite side of the river the banks rose into per- 
pendicular cliffs, crowned with magnificent timber, and 
beyond these were level, fertile fields of about a hundred 
acres cleared, fenced, and planted with corn. The fencing, 
which was " worm," was very bad, and on all the farm 
there were no " slip-bars," or gates. 

A quarter of a mile from the house, on the opposite 
side of the river, a clear mountain stream, called Crane 
Creek, ran into the Bluestone. This Baily had dammed 
a short distance from the junction, and put up a log-built 
mill, with one pair of stones. It was the only corn-mill 
for miles round, and seemed to be a rather valuable 
asset. It was worked by George Baily himself, and I 
found that the running of it was his only contribution 
to the family resources. 

About seven hundred acres of the land lay on Crane 
Creek, running back on either side to the steep rich 
ridges covered with heavy timber, amongst which were 
groves, or " orchards," as they called them, of " sugar 
trees " and sugar maples. The rest of the farm, about 
three hundred acres, was in the valley of the Blue- 
stone, and along it and Crane Creek too there were 
ancient clearings, probably fifty years old. 

There were no outbuildings on the place except a 
miserable open log shed, in which three horses could 
stand, and a log pen for fattening hogs. These, in the 
proper season of the year, were fed on peaches, which 
would else have rotted and gone to waste ; a diet which 
would almost commend their flesh to vegetarians, had 
there been any of that cult in Virginia in those days. 
Behind the stable was a small garden, or " truck patch," 
in which the women folk raised what they called " garden 
sass," no man ever putting hand to such work, which 
was considered infra dig. for them, and only fit for 
women ! 

For ten long hours the old man and I walked round the 
farm, till I think I had seen everything on it that was 



28 THE FARM ON THE BLUESTONE 

to be seen. It seemed to me a fine estate, and indeed 
would have been so regarded in this country, and I made 
up my mind to buy it, if I could get it at my price, which 
was $1,500 or £300 in English money. 

After supper that evening, as we smoked our long 
cane-stemmed pipes on the gallery whilst the women 
were busy with their spinning, the bargaining began. 
Baily asked me $2,000. I told him I could not pay that, 
as the condition of the house, mill, and fencing was so 
bad, but would give $1,500 if the title proved to be good, 
and pay a deposit now of $20. Probably I would take 
all the stock he wished to sell. Finding Baily would not 
give way and that " lying down " time had come, I went 
to bed, saying I must get back to Princeton in the 
morning, as I had many other places to look at. 

Daylight saw us all astir, and, after " water pouring," 
Council and I went out into the woods to shoot squirrels 
for breakfast, Manor of course with us. Poor fellow! 
he was not master of the art of " treeing," — i.e. standing 
under the tree and barking, when his game had treed, 
as all the country dogs do. However, Council soon shot 
a couple with his long flint-and-steel Kentucky rifle, and 
we returned as fast as we could, as the girls were waiting 
to cook them. In less than no time they were skinned, 
cut up, and stewed in cream gravy, and were delicious 
eating. 

After breakfast Baily, finding he could not screw me 
up to his terms, accepted mine. A piece of paper was 
found, after considerable search, and I drew up the 
agreement for sale as well as I could, and paid over my 
$20, for which I took a receipt. 

It was agreed he was to give me possession at Michael- 
mas, and in the meantime Jack Galliers and I were to 
board with the family as paying guests. Now I said 
good-bye, mounted my confounded slug of a colt, and set 
off for Princeton in high feather with myself and all the 
world. 



FOREST AISLES 29 

You bet, as my Virginian friends would say, I was a 
proud and happy youngster that glorious summer day ! 
Just twenty-one, with health and strength and energy 
enough for anything ; the owner of a fine farm, with 
money enough to stock it — what more could heart 
desire ? 

No purchase I have made since, in any part of the 
world, has given me the pleasure this did. One drop 
of bitterness there was — the thought that settling here 
meant long years of separation from friends at home ; 
but boy-like I soon brushed the melancholy aside and 
was happy again. Youth is selfish ; it is only to the 
old that separation is so bitter. 

Joe Alvis and his wife highly approved my purchase, 
and said, " Now you are a real Virginian." 

Next morning I rode off to Emmanuel Jenks to look 
up Jack, for I feared he might be flattered and bribed by 
that worthy into deserting me for good, and I could not 
get on without his help on the farm. Arrived at " Flat 
Topped Mountain," I found Jenks and Jack were both 
away at the road-making camp. I fed my horse, treated 
myself to corn cake and whiskey, and set off on my fifteen- 
mile ride to find them. 

My way lay by a narrow bridle-path through the forest, 
the trees of which stood in their primeval glory, decked 
in all their summer beauty of foliage and of flower. No 
human being was seen, nor sign of human habitation 
met with ; solemn silence reigned, save for the muffled 
sound of my horse's feet on the soft earth, and these 
forest aisles loomed awe-inspiring in their grandeur ; 
temples raised by God Himself, and seeming meet for 
His habitation. 

It was late when I reached the camp of eight or nine 
rough shanties of poles and brush, by the side of the new 
road. Jenks and Jack came out and welcomed me 
heartily, and soon we were seated on a log enjoying a 
good supper of strong coffee, corn-bread, and fried bacon. 



30 THE FARM ON THE BLUESTONE 

When I told my tale, Jenks, who was a good fellow, 
said Jack was his best hand, but he would not for a 
moment try to keep him from me. Jack, with many 
expletives, declared it would be no good if he did, for he 
meant to work with me anyway. Indeed, I verily believe 
he was as much pleased as I was to know that I had 
found a new home for us both. 

The road they were making was a simple affair, though 
it was a County one. The side of the hill was cut down 
straight with mattocks, the lower side or slope braced 
with timber cut along it to keep it from washing away, 
and the surface, about twenty feet wide, ploughed with 
a wooden plough of local manufacture and then made 
fairly level with shovels. A soft road indeed, and in 
wet weather pretty muddy, but much better than none. 

After supper, I remember, we sat out on our log, 
smoking and chatting. Presently Jenks and Jack fell 
drowsy and I sat on in the soft summer air, under the 
starlit sky, in a silence only broken, now and then, by 
the sweet, plaintive cries of the whip-poor-wills, or the 
distant baying of a wolf in the depths of the surrounding 
forest. 

Next morning, after a sound sleep by Emmanuel's 
side on a shakedown, a rather scanty " pouring," for 
water was scarce, and a good breakfast of the usual fare, 
I arranged with Jack to be at the Bluestone in a fort- 
night's time, there to await my arrival, if I had not 
returned from Richmond, where I was going to fetch 
our things. 

Then Jenks and I rode off through the forest, following 
no path but guided by the sun, to the farm of a man 
named Salisbury, about four miles away, who was said 
to have a smart little riding mare, which I wanted to 
swap my unmannerly colt for. Jenks took us all right 
through the pathless woods, and we came out straight 
on Salisbury's clearing. There we were received in the 
usual hospitable fashion and given an excellent dinner, 



A HORSE SWAP 31 

which besides the inevitable pig meat, I remember, in- 
cluded a dish of venison. 

After the meal the mare was driven up, a smart little 
thing about 14 J hands, well bred, and a good mover. 
Of course when it came to the deal we both wanted 
" boots," so finally we left it to Jenks to say who should 
draw, and what. He decided I was to give $2-§-, which 
I did, and I think both Salisbury and I were pleased 
with our bargains ; I know I was, at any rate, for 
the little mare — I called her " Fiddle " — turned out to 
be as good as she looked. 

One more night I spent in Jenks's camp, rolled up in a 
blanket, and lulled to sleep by the forest cries of birds 
and beasts, than which there is no sweeter lullaby for 
weary mortal. 

Jack was pleased to highly approve my swap. He 
promised again to turn up without fail on the appointed 
day at the Bluestone, and then with many good-byes 
I mounted Fiddle and started for Princeton, en route 
for Richmond, a distance of 260 miles there and back ; 
a long and solitary ride, but pleasant enough in those 
glorious summer mornings and evenings. 



CHAPTER IV 



THE CAMP MEETING 



Nothing befell me on the journey to Richmond and 
back worth recording. The canal boat-trip was even 
more pleasant than the previous one, since the crowd 
was less and there was more room to stretch one's legs at 
night. Otherwise everything on board was the same, 
and I fancied I recognised my old friends the tooth- 
brushes, hanging in the same old place, but looking rather 
the worse for wear. 

Returning to the Bluestone I was joined in a couple 
of days by Jack Galliers, and we soon got to work on the 
farm. I was not to pay for it, or to get possession till 
Michaelmas, but, as Baily was quite willing to let me do 
what I liked on the place, if he were not expected to 
work himself, I settled to pay a very moderate weekly 
board for Jack and myself, until such time as the Bailys 
departed. 

Nearly all the arable fields were cumbered with 
deadened and dead trunks of great trees, and the first 
job we undertook was to log them up and burn them. 
This was about the heaviest work I have ever done, for 
the midsummer heat was terrific. Still we stuck to it 
manfully, Jack working like the British navvy that he 
was, and by the fall we had made a pretty good clearance, 
so that the fields looked more shipshape. 

Failing his beloved beer, I regret to say Jack took 
more and more kindly to the " wine of the country," or 
corn whiskey, which he got at Richard Bailey's still about 

32 



JACK AND I PART 33 

three miles down the river. He kept sober enough to do 
his work, but grew quarrelsome in his cups, and the still 
led at last to our parting, which came about in this way : 

As winter came on his visits to the still grew more 
frequent, and he more morose. I realised I should have 
to get rid of him sooner or later, and got a man named 
Bryant and his wife to come to me as helps and to live 
in the house. 

Jack then having left me in a very bad humour, I met 
him one evening at Thompson Bailey's house, when he 
challenged me to fight with " fistises," as he called them. 
I knew I was no match for him, the great burly navvy 
with muscles like iron, but I could not show the white 
feather before the natives, for the credit of Old England. 
So for half an hour we had it up and down, in the front 
of the house, to the delectation of the spectators. Jack, 
I am bound to confess, whipped me badly, and for many 
a day I bore the marks of his " fistises," though I rejoice 
to remember that he did not escape scathless. 

A few weeks after this he came to my house, about 
ten o'clock at night, mad drunk, and armed with an axe, 
with which he began to batter in the door, vowing he 
would kill me. Mrs. Bryant, in terror, begged me not 
to go out, but I had to, unless I wished to see the infuriated 
Jack burst in upon us, for the door was giving way. 
I can't say I liked the position, but, realising that it 
was safest to take the aggressive, I seized a pair of 
" pot-hooks," suddenly opened the door, and before 
Jack could use his axe, felled him to the ground. 

We carried him into the house in a pretty bad way, 
for I had nearly cracked his skull, hard as it was, and it 
was a week before he was well enough to leave. He 
had the grace to confess that he had only got his deserts. 
It was a rough but salutary lesson to him, for he was 
afraid to molest me any more. 

While Jack still abode with us and was fairly decent 
in his behaviour, we got through a lot of work on the 

3 



34 THE CAMP MEETING 

place. Besides clearing the land of logs, we put all the 
fencing into good repair, put up a pretty porch over the 
door, and windows and partitions in both the rooms, so 
that the house, when I sold it in the following summer, 
was, for that country, and those times, quite a nice 
place. 

Till the Bailys left in the fall we got on very well 
together, the old lady and the girls doing all they could 
to make me comfortable. They were always hard at 
work in their kitchen, or at their spinning or weaving ; 
but Baily himself took things very easy, and did scarcely 
any work, so it was not difficult to understand why he 
had not made a success of farming. Indeed, his was 
no exceptional case, for many of the backwoods farmers 
seemed thoroughly lacking in energy and go ; probably 
it was the hopelessness of the conditions under which 
they lived, in those dense forests, that made them so. 

During all this summer of hard work my only recreation 
was to ride, with one or other of the girls, to an occasional 
preaching, held at some neighbour's farm. 

As August drew to an end a great event happened, 
and that was the holding of a Methodist Camp Meeting 
at Brush Creek, a few miles from the Bluestone. All 
the folks I knew in the neighbourhood were going, and 
hundreds more from the surrounding counties would 
collect for what, to them, was the greatest and most 
exciting annual event in their placid lives. Of course I 
went too, having received many invitations from friends 
living near the spot, and from others who had permanent 
camps fixed at the meeting-place. 

It was the first function of the kind I had seen, and I 
confess it made a great impression on me. Let me try 
to describe it in its light, and in its shade ; for like all 
things mundane, it was a mixture of good and evil, 
though I think the former predominated. 

The setting of the picture was some of Nature's most 
beautiful handiwork, for all round the little clearing, of 



THE "MOURNERS' BENCH" 35 

about two acres, stood the primeval forest of oak, hickory, 
and walnut, and from their giant limbs hung and twined, 
and twisted and stretched, the all-embracing grape-vines, 
their leaves just lightly touched with the bronze of the 
fading summer. Round three sides of the square, under 
the shade of the overhanging trees, were the permanent 
cabins of the well-to-do people of the neighbourhood. 
On the fourth side the preaching house stood open-sided, 
and seated with rough " puncheon slabs," a passage 
in the middle dividing the men from the women. In 
the centre was a platform and rostrum for the preacher, 
and just below it an open space, about fourteen feet 
square, enclosed by a rail, called the " Mourners' bench." 

Camp guards were appointed to keep order and decorum 
within the precincts of the meeting-ground, and within 
its boundaries everything was decorous enough. The 
stillness and solemnity there were only broken by the 
preacher's voice, or the singing of popular hymn tunes, 
with an earnestness and enthusiasm that carried one 
away, as by a flood, when the congregation had been 
stirred and moved by some powerful pulpit oration. 
That singing haunts me now ; I never heard its like in 
any church or cathedral. The dark solemnity of the 
surrounding woods, contrasted with the flickering gleam 
of the torches, which half revealed, half hid the intense 
excitement of the faces upturned in an exaltation of 
repentance, as the preacher denounced woe and tribula- 
tion on unrepentant sinners, made a scene never to be 
forgotten. 

Towards midnight, when the fervour had reached its 
highest pitch, from the semi-darkness surrounding the 
preacher would be heard cries and screams and ejacula- 
tions. The " Mourners' bench " would fill with penitents, 
and girls would cry to their lovers, fathers and mothers 
to their children, to join them there and find salvation. 

There was something so weird, so striking, so con- 
tagious in this intense exaltation, that the hardest and 



36 THE CAMP MEETING 

wildest natures were affected, at least temporarily, and 
those who elsewhere, and at other times, scarce uttered 
a prayer, might be seen weeping and lamenting their 
sins in deep abasement. For my own part, I felt deeply 
moved, but, though frequently called upon, I did not 
" go forward to get religion." 

This was one phase of camp-meeting life, and its best ; 
the other side of the picture was of the world, worldly. 

In the woods, away from the camp ground, were rows 
of buggies and light wagons, and Jpens for horses, kept 
by negroes, who took in and fed your mount for a dollar 
a day ; a busy, merry scene of cooking and laughter 
and picnicing, innocent enough, but somewhat incon- 
gruous. Farther away still, about a mile from camp, 
and kept very quiet, were to be found a few barrels of 
whiskey by those who knew where to look for them, and 
a good many apparently did. 

Then there were constables collecting debts, horse 
dealers and " swappers " plying their trades, and crowds 
of young folks bent solely on amusement, though even 
these probably would be swept into the vortex of ex- 
citement and enthusiasm when the " Mourners' bench " 
began to fill. 

Strolling in the quiet woods, still farther afield from 
the camp, card parties might be seen, and a good deal 
of heavy gambling went on amongst them. Indeed, the 
whole scene was an epitome of the world and life in 
general, for many good people were there, and many bad. 

The negroes, of course, had their own separate preaching 
stand, and once or twice I was present at their meetings, 
which were much like those of the whites, only, if possible, 
marked by wilder and more frantic excitement. 

These Camp Meetings were their happiest times, poor 
fellows, and exactly suited to the negro temperament. 

Amongst the first friends I met at the camp were a 
Mr. and Mrs. Herndon, who had brought their family, 
two girls of fifteen and sixteen, and two younger boys. 



KINDLY SLAVEOWNERS 37 

He was a well-to-do planter, and, besides his family, had 
brought quite a retinue of slaves. I put up with the 
Herndons and was charmed with their society. Mrs. 
Herndon was a delightful hostess, cultured and refined, 
and a thoroughly good woman. I remember strolling 
round the camp with her and one of the girls, and how 
sorely she was troubled by the mixture of religion and 
vanity in the scene, and how she begged me to keep 
away from those only bent on pleasure, to think 
seriously, and to " get religion." 

The husband and herself were typical slave-owners of 
the best class, and the negroes they owned were fortunate. 
Of course they were all known to me, and one old negress 
I remember well, a great favouite of her mistress and a 
thoroughly good old soul, Aunt Rhoda by name. 

She was deeply concerned for my spiritual welfare, 
and, meeting me one night as I left the preaching, threw 
her ams round my neck and prayed me, with all her 
might, to " get religion." Poor old soul ! She could not 
understand, when I tried to explain why I didn't " come 
forward," and was much troubled as to my future state. 

During my life in the West I was present at many 
other Camp Meetings, which were conducted in much 
the same manner as this, but none made such an impres- 
sion on me ; it was a new experience, and a strange one, 
utterly unlike anything in the Old Country. 

I stayed a whole week at the camp with my kind 
friends, and then one night, when the preaching was 
over and the singing nearly done, said good-bye and 
rode off on my homeward journey. It was a lovely 
moonlit night, and as I rode through the quiet forest 
glades, the sound of the last hymn at first rang loud and 
clear, gradually dying away into silence, and all was 
still. My first Camp Meeting was over, but not the im- 
pression it made upon me. 

Soon after the Camp Meeting, I joined with the settlers 
in the neighbourhood in building a log church, for the 



38 THE CAMP MEETING 

Episcopal Methodists, in a lovely secluded spot on the 
Bluest one, about two miles below me. Every one 
worked cheerfully and willingly at it, moved thereto by 
the wave of enthusiasm started by the Camp Meeting, 
and the church was quickly built. It was a simple enough 
affair, but a great benefit to the settlement, for " preach- 
ings " were often held there, and generally well attended, 
settlers and their wives and families riding in ten or 
fifteen miles to the services. 

That summer I made a good crop of corn, and, by the 
aid of a " raising," built a barn to hold it. 

It was a kindly, neighbourly custom in those parts, 
when help was wanted for such a work, for all one's 
friends to bear a hand. They came from far and near, 
and it was quite a holiday gathering. Many hands make 
light work, and by sundown the barn was built. 

With the help of my lady friends, who lent me the 
table requisites, I provided a good supper, with a suffi- 
ciency of whiskey and apple-brandy. Then followed a 
dance, to the music of a fiddle, and we had what my 
friends called " a good time." 

That winter, as farm work was slack, I did a good 
deal of hunting, and had some very good sport with 
Manor, and when " still " hunting without him ; but that, 
and other events that soon after sbefell me and caused 
me much disquietude at the time, must be reserved for 
another chapter. 



CHAPTER V 

DURANCE VILE 

About the middle of November, there being little or no 
work to be done on the farm, I went on a shooting trip — 
" hunting," we always called it — with Burrell Baily, my 
old friend's eldest son. 

One misty, cold morning we started for our ground, 
about twenty miles off in the high ridges, and took with 
us corn for our horses, and corn-meal, bacon, and whiskey 
for ourselves. 

We were " still " hunting, so had to leave poor Manor 
behind, much to his disgust. 

I remember we killed a doe on the way, and when we 
made our camp that night in a sheltered hollow, fared 
sumptuously thereon. A chat over our plans for the 
next day, a pipe and glass of whiskey therewith, and so 
to sleep, rolled in our blankets and our saddles for pillows. 
No sleep so sound and refreshing is to be got on any 
feather bed as in a hunting-camp, after a good hard day's 
work in the open air ; you have earned your rest, and 
enjoy it the more. 

Many and many a time I have slept out on the open 
prairie, when travelling or scouting, wrapped in a blanket, 
under the glorious tent of the summer sky, with the cool 
night air fanning away the scorching of the day, and that 
perhaps is the most delightful sleep of all ; unless you 
happen to be in an Indian country, and then, possibly, 
you may have uncomfortable dreams about your scalp. 



40 DURANCE VILE 

The country we were hunting in this trip was about 
the wildest I ever saw anywhere in the States ; it was 
a succession of lofty ridges, deep rocky ravines, and 
tumbling mountain torrents. No human habitation was 
within miles of us, and game abounded, especially deer 
and bear, which we were after. Wolves and foxes were 
numerous too, and so daring that we had to hoist our 
kills high up on trees to keep them out of their 
reach. 

All the ridges were covered with the finest timber and 
were fairly clear of brush, but in the bottoms there was 
a dense growth of " ivy and laurel," splendid cover for 
the deer. 

We started out of camp early next morning, Baily 
taking one ridge, and I another, not without some fear 
on my part of losing myself in those vast woods. That 
day Baily got a bear and a fine buck, and I a doe and 
a brace of pheasants, which was pretty good for a be- 
ginner, for it was only the second time I had tried my 
hand with an old Kentucky rifle. 

Four days we hunted, working hard each day and 
seeing an immense quantity of game, and then, having 
got as much bear and deer meat as our horses could carry, 
started for home, well pleased with ourselves. Of course 
we only took the hams of the bears and the loins of the 
deer, and then were well loaded up. 

As I have already said, I sold my farm the following 
summer, and my friend Herndon was the purchaser at 
$2,000. He was to take possession at Michaelmas, and 
in the meantime let me have three of his negroes to work 
it — Rhoda, a cook, and two boys, Buck and Sam by 
name — and very useful they were. 

By that time I had fifty head of nice young cattle on 
the place, and tried to sell them at auction, but failing 
to get my price, kept them, and after a bit drove them to 
Milam's Ridge, a wild out-of-the-way place fifty miles 
off. One of the numerous tribe of Baileys lived there, 



HORSE-DEALING 41 

with a large family of daughters, in a rough log cabin, 
and made his living by hunting. He undertook to winter 
my cattle for $1 a head, and looked after them very well, 
though he had not much to do except to round them up 
every now and then, for of course they got their own 
living in the woods. 

Having sold the farm, and being " foot loose," I made an 
arrangement with another Bailey, Richard by name, and 
a J.P., at a place called Rock Settlement, to board with 
him, whenever I liked, at $2.50 a week, including horse- 
keep as well. There I made the acquaintance of a man 
named Burnett, who kept a store in partnership with 
George Paris of Princeton, one of the few men in the 
town with whom I was not very friendly. Paris was a 
well-to-do man, for those parts, but was unscrupulous, 
overbearing, and harsh in his dealings. 

Burnett had recently married a girl from Princeton 
whom I knew, and we three became great friends ; a 
most unfortunate friendship it proved to be for me, and 
eventually landed me in prison, though only for a brief 
period. 

My only excuse for getting into such a mess was that 
I was very young, and quite without business experience, 
believed Burnett's assurance that Paris was trying to rob 
him — which, a priori, was not improbable — and when 
once in it, thought it my duty to protect his wife's 
interests at all risks. 

Burnett was, as events proved, an unmitigated rascal, 
and I, in my simplicity, was made a tool of by him. He 
invited me to join him in a horse-selling trip into Eastern 
Virginia, and I having some fifty horses for sale, agreed 
to go with him. If his horses sold well he meant to settle 
up with all his creditors except Paris, who was trying to 
rob him, and then go out West. 

We started with a bunch of 125 horses, seventy-five 
of Burnett's and fifty of my own, and did very well 
with them till we arrived at a place called Charlotte 



42 DURANCE VILE 

Court House one Saturday evening, with only about a 
dozen unsold. 

Whilst I was out in the town Paris appeared on the 
scene, and he and Burnett had a very lively time, I 
believe. The latter reported that Paris was trying to 
rob him not only of the proceeds of his horse sales, but 
of two notes for $1,000 each which he held. Would I 
hold the notes, which he would endorse to me, for the 
benefit of his poor wife, and save her from want ? Of 
course I would, egregious ass that I was, and pledged 
my word to collect the $2,000 and hand them to his 
wife, despite the rapacious Paris and anything he could 
do ! Then my friend Burnett rode off with about 
$2,500 in his belt, after selling me the four horses he 
had left, and I never saw or heard from him again. 

Well, I soon sold out the rest of my horses and set off 
on my homeward journey in high feather, with $250 in 
gold, notes, and silver in a purse in my breeches pocket, 
and the balance of about $3,000 in a large pocket-book 
carried in my saddle-bag. This may seem foolish, but as 
there were no banks in which to deposit it, there was 
nothing else to be done. 

My first halt was at King Edward's Court House, and 
as I walked up the steps of the tavern, I thrust my hand 
into my pocket to feel for my purse. It was gone ! In 
vain I searched all my pockets. It had vanished. 

It was Saturday, and a holiday for most of the niggers 
on the plantations, many of whom I had met on the 
road, and no doubt some of them had found my treasure ; 
I at any rate didn't, though I wasted a whole day 
searching for it. 

It was now the month of May, and the weather very 
warm, so on my last day's ride over the mountains I 
halted at midday to rest my horse and myself. Sitting 
on a fallen log by the wayside in that solitude, I lit my 
pipe and then, having nothing else to do, pulled my 
pocket-book out of the saddle-bag to examine its con- 



LOST AND FOUND 43 

tents. Presently I saddled up and reached home without 
further halt, just after dark, but when I unpacked the 
saddle-bags, my money was nowhere to be found ! 

Nothing could be done that night, but next morning 
by daybreak I started out with my friend George Dillon 
to help me, taking my dog Manor with me. We hunted 
every yard of the back trail without success, and as we 
neared my yesterday's halting place, hope died within 
me. But now, when we were in sight of it, Manor, who 
had been on ahead, came galloping back with the pocket- 
book in his mouth, highly pleased with his find ! The 
contents were intact, and I rode home with a mighty load 
off my mind. 

Once again, many years after this, I temporarily lost 
a pocket-book with a large sum of notes in it — £160, I 
think it was — but it was restored to me by a man as 
honest and faithful as the dog. I was then staying with 
a younger brother, an officer at Aldershot. We drove 
over to Guildford, and I put my hand in my pocket, 
as soon as we arrived, to get some money out — it was 
gone. 

I remembered my tribulation of long ago in Virginia, 
but never supposed I should be lucky enough to recover 
such a loss a second time. However, when we drove up 
to my brother's hut, there stood his soldier servant, an 
Irishman, who had been with him several years, with my 
pocket-book grasped in his hand. I had left it on the 
dressing-table, and he found it directly after we started. 
I, of course, rewarded him suitably, but I well remember 
now what a lecture he gave me for my carelessness ! 

But we must hark back to Virginia, and my troubles 
with Mr. George Paris. 

A day or two after my joyful return home I rode out to 
the Rock settlement, to put up with Richard Bailey, on 
my way to Milam's Ridge, to look after my cattle there. 

Mr. Paris very shortly appeared, with two friends, de- 
manding to see me. Of course, I knew what was coming, 



44 DURANCE VILE 

and braced myself up for the struggle. I firmly believed 
I was in the right, and wasn't going to be bullied into 
giving up my friend's property, so put my Derringer in 
my pocket, and went out to speak with the enemy in 
the gate. Probably, if he had quietly explained the true 
state of affairs, and produced proof that Burnett was in 
his debt, we might have settled matters on the spot. But 
instead of that he blustered and bullied, after the manner 
of his kind, threatening what he would do for me, if I did 
not at once hand over the two notes for $1,000, and other 
moneys of Burnett's, which he said he knew I had in my 
possession. 

With my hand on my six-shooter, I told him very 
quietly that I did not admit I had any property of his, 
and certainly should not hand anything over to him, 
either now or at any other time. The man was a coward, 
for finding bullying was no good, he mounted his horse 
and rode off, vowing he would have me locked up as soon 
as he returned to Princeton. The folks at the settlement 
were delighted to see the bully, whom all disliked, so 
cowed, and I leaped into popularity at once. 

But I cannot say I liked the position I had got myself 
into. Paris was a man of wealth, and I was poor and 
comparatively friendless, with but small chance of holding 
my own against him in the Law Courts, if it came to that, 
as it undoubtedly would. But I had given my word to 
Burnett not to hand over the bills, or their proceeds, to 
any one but his wife, so I felt in honour bound to harden 
my heart and see the matter through. 

In this frame of mind, which was rather a reckless one, 
I set out for Milam's Ridge to look after my cattle, in- 
tending to return thence to Princeton to surrender myself 
to the warrant I knew would be out against me. 

The woods were all on fire between me and the Ridge, 
but I determined to pusli on, come what might, lest I 
should be arrested before I had made my arrangements ; 
for once under lock and key, I didn't know what might 



A FOREST FIRE 45 

happen to me, or how long I might remain there. Young, 
and ignorant of law as I was, it came into my mind 
that I might be charged with stealing the notes Burnett 
had handed me, and how could I prove my innocence ? 
Paris, I knew, would swear to anything, and I might soon 
be a convicted felon ! 

With these distracting, tormenting thoughts surging 
through my mind, on I rode through the blazing, roaring 
flames that at times almost barred my passage. Reck- 
less and absorbed by my own troubles and fears, I paid 
little heed to the magnificent scene around and ahead of 
me, though it was awe-inspiring enough to give one 
pause. The undergrowth, which was not thick, was 
quickly consumed, but the flames shot up the dead 
and living forest trees, a full hundred feet or more, 
a roaring mass of fire. Then, with an appalling crash, 
would fall some giant limb across the track, and it was 
only by God's mercy they did not fall on me. 

Milam's Ridge was fifty miles ahead of me, and as far 
as I could see, when the wind, that followed the raging 
fire, lifted the curtain of smoke, the whole country was 
on fire. Now, when I at last realised my danger, I would 
gladly have turned back, but that was impossible ; the 
fire barred my passage, and I must push through, or 
perish in the flames. 

How I did it I don't know, but at last I emerged from 
the fiery furnace, not far from the Ridge. Scorched by 
the heat and blackened by the smoke, my horse and I 
were sorry objects when we arrived, but I was deeply 
grateful to the Providence that had brought me safely 
through that and so many other dangers in my short 
life. 

I found my cattle all right, and stayed on with Reuben 
Bailey some days in security, knowing there was no fear 
of a warrant being served on me in such a wild country 
as that. Then I rode back, through the awful desolation 
of the charred and blackened forest, to the Rock settle- 



46 DURANCE VILE 

ment, where I picked up my friend George Dillon, and 
went with him into Princeton to give myself up. 

Seated on a verandah, playing backgammon, I saw 
the Sheriff, Ben McNutt, rode up to him, and announced 
I had come to give myself up. He shook hands, and 
said he had a warrant against me right enough, but, 
hearing I was after my cattle on the Gyandotte, hadn't 
troubled to go out and serve it there, as he knew that I 
should turn up at the settlement before long. 

I told him I was going to put my horse up at Alvis's 
tavern, and he could take me there. " Bob, my boy," 
he said, " we'll have supper together there, but after 
that I must lock you up, sorry as I am to have to do it." 
We had a very pleasant supper party, for Ben was as 
good a fellow as you would wish to meet, and all my 
friends did their best to cheer me up. Then I wrote to 
Herndon asking him to stand my bail in $2,000, till next 
Court day in October, and that being done, we all strolled 
down to the gaol, where I was duly handed over into 
the custody of the gaoler by my friend Ben. 

I was placed in a cell on the ground-floor about ten 
feet square, the only furniture a rough bed, with mattress 
and blankets. The window was well guarded with iron 
bars, and the outer door, for there were two, of which 
the inside one stood wide open till locking-up time, 
was protected in like manner on the upper half, but 
with sufficient width between the bars to admit a hand 
and a fair-sized parcel. - 

When my friends departed, and the heavy lock was 
turned on me, I confess my spirits fell to zero, and I 
laid myself down on the bed in a despairing mood. 

George Dillon had taken charge of my letter to Herndon, 
and had vowed he would bring him into Princeton next 
day. But when he came, if he did come, would he, 
or any one else, bail me, or must I lie in this miserable 
den till October ? And in October, what would happen 
to me ? Horrible thought ! I might be sent to the 



A FRIEND IN NEED 47 

Penitentiary as a thief, and probably should be. What 
would my friends at home think of me when they knew 
of my plight ? One, I knew, wouldn't believe I had 
done wrong ; but the rest ? 

As all these miserable forebodings coursed through 
my mind I felt more and more lonely and sad ; then 
came a rap at the outer door, and a cheery voice ex- 
claimed, " See here, Bob, I've brought you a book to 
read, and a flask of whiskey, and a plug of tobacco, 
to cheer you up. Don't be down-hearted ; you shall be 
out to-morrow, never fear. Everybody in Princeton is 
sorry for you, and no one believes you have done any- 
thing wrong." It was good, kind little Mrs. Alvis, and 
as she passed the things in to me, through the window 
bars, and grasped my hand, I felt hope revive, and that 
I could face the worst with an equal mind. So great is 
the power of a little sympathy. 

Cheered and comforted by my little friend's visit, I 
laid me down and slept fairly well, and so passed my 
first night in prison. 



CHAPTER VI 

A DANCE AND A FIGHT 

The next morning the same kind friend who had so 
cheered me the previous night sent me an ample break- 
fast ; and the outside door being open, I had many visitors 
with whom to talk through the open bars of the inner 
one. Some came to sympathise, and others to stare 
at the young Englishman George Paris had got into 
his clutches, for my case was the talk of the little town, 
and no doubt pleasantly varied the monotony of existence 
whilst its novelty lasted. But for me that day in prison 
dragged its slow length out in utter weariness, and my 
heart was heavy within me, for no word came from 
George Dillon or Herndon, and I verily thought I was 
abandoned as a prey unto mine enemy. 

The last visitor I had the second evening was a most 
unexpected one, Jack Galliers of all people in the world. 
He said he had only just heard of my trouble, and had 
come into Princeton to see if he could do anything for 
me. He thrust his hard paw through the bars, grasped 
my hand like a vice, " dommed " Paris with a vigour 
all his own, including the whole country in his anathemas, 
and vowed that, if I would give the word, he would 
soon show that gentleman what he could do with his 
" fistises." 

I thanked him very warmly for his kind remembrance 
of me, told him his beating Paris would not help me, 
but, if I wanted his services, I would be sure to send 
him word. 

48 



HERNDON TO THE RESCUE 49 

Without any prompting from me, he stood outside by 
the bars and sang to me two or three of his favourite 
ballads in the deepening twilight ; then we shook 
hands and parted, and I never saw him again. 

That second night I slept but little in my prison cell, 
feeling very uneasy at the non-arrival of Herndon and 
Dillon. 

But about eleven o'clock next morning my kind friend 
appeared, in great excitement, grasped both my hands 
through the bars, and cried, " Bob, my dear boy, what 
have the rascals done to you ? You shan't stop here 
another half -hour ! Go your bail ? Of course I will. 
I reckon I would, if it were ten times as much." What 
an immense relief his cheery presence and kindly words 
were can be better imagined than described. He wouldn't 
stop to listen to my heartfelt thanks, but posted off 
at once to give his bond. 

The formalities were quickly completed, the lock 
was turned, and I stepped forth into the open air that 
lovely summer morning a free and happy youth. I 
found quite a gathering of friends and acquaintances 
at Al vis's, who warmly congratulated me on my release ; 
then, with many handshakes, Herndon and I mounted 
our horses and rode out to his place, where I was to 
spend the night, he explaining by the way that the 
delay in his coming to my help was caused by his absence 
from home. 

Kind, good Mrs. Herndon and all her family, black 
and white, gave me quite an ovation, and treated me 
more like a hero than a prisoner out on bail. 

But I was still very uneasy about my future ; October 
would soon come round, when I should have to stand 
my trial, and what should I do ? Mrs. Burnett was 
begging me not to give up the notes to Paris, which she 
roundly declared were not his property, but her hus- 
band's, from whom, by the way, I had heard nothing ; 
even if I did give them up, in spite of my pledged word, 

4 



50 A DANCE AND A FIGHT 

Paris could still hold me to my bail if he liked, and I 
felt I was in a great fix, and could see no clear way out 
of it. Besides all this, I was in a fever of unrest, and 
wanted to get away to that unknown land of promise, 
the Far West, as it then was, and which was drawing 
so many of my acquaintances, like a loadstone. 

So, in despite of the advice of a very clever lawyer, 
Strauss by name, who lived in Taswell Court House, 
about sixty miles from Princeton, and who wanted me 
to fight Paris, I determined to compromise the matter 
with him, making the best terms I could for Mrs. Burnett. 
Therefore on my return to Princeton, I talked pretty 
big of what I would do with Paris by the help of Strauss, 
and then lay low for the next move of the enemy. 

In two days' time he sent his confidential clerk to 
ask me to meet him, and then I felt sure of victory. 

I went to his store, and to cut a long story short, 
eventually settled with him on the terms that I was to 
give up the notes on payment of $400 ; he to withdraw 
all proceedings, and to write me a letter stating that 
he had no cause of complaint against me. Next day 
I rode out to Rock Settlement, with a lighter heart 
than I had had for many a day, and handed over the 
$400 to Mrs. Burnett. 

About this time, Wyoming Court House was to be 
opened as the seat of government of a new County, 
just formed on the Gyandotte River. Everybody from 
Milam's Ridge was going to the function, which would 
be a great gathering of the neighbourhood for miles 
around. So, with a party of six or seven friends, I rode 
the fifty miles to the scene of the festivities, through 
forest paths of the wildest, and overshadowed by the 
finest of timber. 

About three miles from the Court House we came to 
a prosperous clearing and farm, with fine peach and 
apple orchards, and a still for converting the produce 
of them into brandy. The owner was known to some 



SAVED BY MY PARTNER 51 

of our party, and we agreed to return in the evening 
and put up for the night, more especially as there was 
to be a big dance, to which we were all invited. 

The new Court House was the usual small cluster of 
log and frame houses, and I remember nothing of the 
opening ceremonies except that one of them was a " Magic 
Lantern Show," which was regarded as quite an event in 
those wild parts. 

Late in the evening we rode back to the farm, to 
find quite a large gathering, most of the folks being 
strangers to us. A plentiful supper was provided for 
all comers, and peach and apple brandy at ten cents 
the half pint was in abundance. In the yard was a 
blazing fire, round which, by the light of torches, much 
card-playing was going on, and some heavy gambling. 
Inside the house dancing was in full swing to the music 
of a fiddle, and I soon joined in, with consequences I have 
cause to remember, for I got into one of the stiffest 
rough-and-tumble fights I ever was in, either there or 
anywhere else. 

After midnight some of the boys began to get noisy 
and quarrelsome, as a result of too many visits to the 
peach brandy. I had had no quarrel with any one, 
and was dancing a cotillon with a very pretty girl, 
when, without the slightest provocation, a young fellow 
jumped at me, struck me a heavy blow in the face, and 
bolted. I left my partner, made for him, and caught 
him before he could get out of the room. In a blazing 
rage, I went for him, and was giving him the sound 
thrashing he richly deserved, when his friends piled 
on me and beat me most unmercifully. 

The dancing of course had stopped ; the girls were 
screaming, and all was confusion whilst I was the " under 
dog " of a crowd, each of whom was doing his best to 
kill me. Probably they would have succeeded had it 
not been for the plucky girl who had been my partner. 
She told me afterwards that she had tried her best to 



52 A DANCE AND A FIGHT 

give me a bowie knife, to defend myself with, but failing 
to get near me, had run out to my friends, who were 
card-playing. They came promptly to the rescue, and 
after a free fight cleared the room and saved my life, 
though at the time I was quite unconscious of their 
help. 

When I came to myself next day, I found I had a 
fearful gash on the back of my head, caused by a crashing 
blow with a full bottle of whiskey, which had stunned 
me, and that my left eye had been cruelly " gouged." 
I was in a pretty bad plight, and at first thought I had 
lost the sight of the eye, but a week's kind nursing by 
my friends at the farm set me up enough to enable me 
to ride back to the Bluestone, which I did all by myself, 
filled with many thoughts as to the experience I had 
gained and a not very exalted opinion of the chivalry 
of the youth of Virginia. 

Having done so well with my horse trade, I next 
undertook to drive a herd of cattle into the Valley of 
Virginia, to sell in the towns and on the tobacco planta- 
tions, in partnership with Ephraim Bailey. 

I had about one hundred head running at Milam's 
Ridge, and Bailey had about fifty. So with this herd 
of 150 head we set out, I taking Reuben Bailey and his 
two boys to help me drive. The cattle were wild as 
hawks, and though Reuben and his youngsters were as 
tough and active as Indians, whom in their buckskin 
hunting-shirts and mocassins they much resembled, it 
was an awful job to get them along at first. However, 
we did contrive to drive them somehow through Giles, 
Munro, and Roanoke Counties, crossing the Roanoke 
River by the natural bridge of Virginia, a stupendous 
work of Nature herself. Descending into the Valley of 
Virginia, where the people were mostly well-to-do de- 
scendants of the Pennsylvanian Dutch, and where there 
were plenty of good grazing farms, we soon disposed of 
the greater number of our stock at good prices. 



A VIRGINIAN MANSION 53 

By the time we reached Culpepper Court House, 
famous afterwards in the Great War time, Bailey had 
sold his fifty head, and I Jiad twenty-five left. These 
I was lucky enough to sell in one lot to a young fellow 
named Fletcher, who owned a fine plantation and 
worked it with about fifty negroes. 

Fletcher said he could not pay me till he received a 
draft from Baltimore in about a fortnight, and in the 
meantime invited me to stay with him at his place. 
I accepted his very cordial invitation, and having paid 
off Reuben and his boys and said good-bye to Ephraim, 
rode out to the plantation with my host. His house 
was quite a fine one, and after my West Virginian ex- 
periences, seemed a mansion indeed. Built in the old 
Colonial days of red brick, mellowed in colour by the 
hundred years of its existence, it looked more like an 
English country house than anything I had seen on the 
other side, though of course it lacked the beautiful 
gardens and trim lawns which are so rarely seen out of 
the Old Country. 

Fletcher, who was a bachelor, lived with his overseer, 
in much comfort and some state. He had plenty of 
horses, both saddle and harness, and quite a retinue 
of servants, all niggers of course. 

The shooting in the neighbourhood was very good, 
partridges and pheasants being plentiful, and my stay 
with him was most enjoyable ; for everything was placed 
at my disposal, horses, buggies, guns, etc., and I was 
made to feel perfectly at home. Fletcher, who was a 
most pleasant, hospitable man, was also a keen sportsman, 
and very fond of what he called " gunning," so we had 
many a good shoot together. After three weeks of this 
pleasant life, the draft from Baltimore arrived, and I 
said good-bye to my friend and started, with my horse 
well rested, for my 250-mile ride back to the Bluestone. 

Nothing worth recording happened on the ride except 
that at Lynchburg, where I put up for Sunday, I was 



54 A DANCE AND A FIGHT 

present at a great Baptist christening on the banks of 
the James River. About a dozen grown men and women 
were plunged beneath the icy water by three preachers, 
who stood waist-deep in it to receive their converts. It 
is to be hoped they were benefited by the ceremony, 
for I remember that all the party, preachers and converts 
alike, looked desperately cold and miserable. 

I reached home at last well satisfied with my venture, 
and with a well-filled pocket-book and cash-belt, the 
proceeds of my cattle trades. 

Now I hastened my preparations for the Western 
migration to Kansas, the land that seemed so fair and 
full of promise, but which was so soon to be the theatre 
of partisan strife and of the cruel, bitter struggle between 
North and South that formed the prelude to the great 
War of Secession. My days in Western Virginia were 
numbered, and I was very shortly to bid farewell to 
many kind friends, and to a simple, easy-going life in 
those woodland regions, which I suppose the march of 
civilisation, moving so rapidly as it does in the States, 
has long since stamped out. 

Before I leave the Virginian life, it may be of interest 
to describe the various kinds of shooting and hunting 
we so much enjoyed. 

Deer, bears, coons, squirrels, partridges so called 
(really tree-grouse), and pheasants abounded in the 
woods, whilst, in a good " mast " year, pigeons came 
in countless thousands, and were slaughtered in their 
" roosts " by every one who possessed a " scatter gun." 

Deer were killed in three ways : 

(1) At the "licks" by torch light; (2) by "still" 
hunting ; and (3) by driving with hounds, kept specially 
for the purpose, and allowed to run no other game. 

The two first methods I have described, but the third, 
or driving, was by far the most exciting. Four or five 
of us would go out by daybreak with, say, three couples 
of hounds, which were hunted by one of the party on 



DEER-DRIVING 55 

horseback. The rest of us would take post on the river 
at " stands," where the deer-trails showed the quarry 
would probably " soil." The huntsman and his little 
pack would make a wide circuit, perhaps for miles, 
through the heavily timbered ridges, whilst we waited 
with what patience we might at our " stands." 

Then would be heard the distant music of the hounds 
as they hit a line. Nearer and nearer it would come, 
and all were frantic with excitement, each one hoping he 
would have the chance of a shot, which only one could get. 

How well I remember the first buck I got in this way ! 
The deep notes of the hounds, now nearer, now far away, 
as they drove the deer in fine style through the forest, 
ring in my ears now. Close down to my hiding-place 
they come in full cry ; I raise my gun, well loaded with 
buckshot, and, as the deer with a bound plunges into 
the stream, I pull the trigger and miss him clean with 
the first barrel, for " buck-ague " is strong upon me. 
Across the river he swims at a great pace, for now the 
leading hound appears on the bank behind him. As he 
scrambles and staggers up the steep side, I steady myself 
and let drive. Back into the water he falls dead, 
shot just behind the shoulder, and before I can realise 
my happiness and good fortune the hounds are upon 
him, and I have to beat them off as best I can till the 
huntsman comes up to help, and to congratulate me on 
my luck. It was rare sport notwithstanding the some- 
times weary waiting, and we would often get two or 
three deer in a day. Bears were always hunted with 
dogs trained for the sport, and they soon got very clever 
at it. Their part was to drive the bear out of the thick 
" ivy brakes " along the river-bottoms, and when they 
had got him out on to the ridges, to stick close to him 
but keeping well out of the reach of his clutches. Sooner 
or later the bear was bound to " set up " against a 
tree or rock if the hounds stuck close to his hams, and 
then came the hunter's chance. 



56 A DANCE AND A FIGHT 

It was rarely that a man got mauled by a bear, but I 
remember one rather curious instance. 

About half-way between the Bluestone and Milam's 
Ridge, two brothers named Mills had a log shanty and 
made a living by hunting, " bee shining," and feeding 
hogs on the " mast " in the woods. When I arrived 
at the cabin one day, on my journey to the ridge, I 
found one of the brothers with an arm badly broken, 
and clawed by a bear. They said that the previous 
night, which was pretty dark, they had been aroused 
by a terrible squealing amongst their hogs, in the pen 
close by. One brother ran out with only a butcher's 
knife in his hand, the other stopped to load his rifle. 
The first jumped over into the pen, and in the dim light 
saw a bear with a hog in his clutch. 

He went at the bear with his knife to save his hog, 
and was at once seized by the left arm, but made a plucky 
fight for it, and cut the bear badly. Meantime the other 
brother came on the scene with his rifle, and as soon 
as he could distinguish which was which, no easy matter 
in a rough-and-tumble like that, put a bullet through the 
bear's head. 

I once spent three days bear-hunting with a Colonel 
George of Tassel County, an ex-Congress man and large 
slave-owner. He took several niggers with him, and 
wagons and horses, and made a regular camp for a 
week's hunting on the Gyandotte River. 

The first day, starting out at daybreak, his three 
couples of hounds soon found in the ivy brakes, and 
quickly drove their bear out on to the ridges. Of course, 
we were on foot, as the country was too rough for riding. 
What a dance that bear led us ! Up hill and down dale, 
over rocks and through thick brush ; sometimes half a 
mile ahead of us, at others so far away we could scarce 
hear the baying of the hounds. 

At last, when I really thought I could run no farther, 
they held him up against a great tree- trunk. He stood 



PASSENGER PIGEONS 57 

on his hind legs, the hounds baying round him in a circle, 
whilst every now and then he would try to catch one in 
his hug. The Colonel and I fired together, and the bear, 
a fine old " he," fell dead. We were seven miles from 
camp, so the niggers only took the skin and the hams. 

We killed two more bears, one each day, much after 
the same fashion, and then I said good-bye to the Colonel, 
and left him to finish his week's hunting, as I was obliged 
to get back to the farm. 

The tree-grouse, or " partridges," as the Virginians 
called them, gave little sport. They are dwellers of the 
woodlands, and, when put up, invariably " tree." The 
" partridge dog " is trained to work ahead of his master, 
and, when he has treed his game, to stand and bark till 
he comes up. The birds are so stupid that they take 
no notice of the dog, and but little of the man ; so that 
one may often shoot a couple of brace out of the tree 
before the rest of the covey fly away. 

Of ducks there was an immense variety in the winter 
season, and good sport could be had with them along the 
river-bottoms. 

Passenger pigeons, or, as we called them, " wild 
pigeons," were at times so numerous that one is almost 
afraid to estimate their numbers, lest it should be thought 
a " yarn " : but indeed they would congregate in a 
favourite " roost " till the smaller saplings would break 
with their weight. 

I well remember in the autumn of 1853 that immense 
flocks were seen passing over my farm. George Dillon 
located their roost, on Brush Creek, about ten miles 
away, and four or five of us took all the " scatter guns " 
we could collect and went out to shoot for the pot. 

We camped about half a mile away from the roost, and 
as twilight came on the pigeons flew in, till the smaller 
trees and brush literally bent under their weight. As 
night fell we lighted our torches, and then the slaughter 
Jiegan. No other word can describe it, for it was butchery 



58 A DANCE AND A FIGHT 

pure and simple, and our only excuse was that we wanted 
the meat. By midnight we had killed enough to fill 
the body of my light wagon ; we might easily have 
filled two such. When we got back we divided the bag, 
and everybody in the settlement lived on pigeons for 
many days. 

Turkeys were fairly plentiful, but were rarely shot. 
They were taken in a rather ingenious fashion. When 
snow lay deep, and turkey signs were seen, a pen was 
made about ten feet square and covered with brush. A 
good long trench was dug leading into this, under the 
bottom log, and corn laid in it, and scattered round. 

The turkeys would follow the corn into the pen, and, 
once in, had not the sense to get out. We sometimes 
caught as many as a dozen at a time. 



CHAPTER VII 

ON THE ROAD TO KANSAS 

It was the end of November, in the year 1854, before 
I could settle up my affairs and make a start, impatient 
as I was to be on the road to my land of promise. Even 
then my friend Herndon, to whom I had sold my farm 
and mill, was not ready with my cash. So to make 
things easier for him and avoid delay, I agreed to take 
three young niggers — Ann, a girl of about sixteen, and 
her two young brothers, Shad and Pete, fourteen and 
twelve years old — in part payment. 

One crisp November morning then, with my not very 
extensive baggage packed in Squire Eli Bailey's wagon, 
or " carry all," I mounted my horse, and with Manor 
by my side started on my long journey Westward. But 
just as we got under weigh, we heard Reuben Bailey's 
deer-hounds in full cry across the creek. This was more 
than Manor could stand, and he bolted off to join the 
sport, turning the deer, so that the hounds, who were 
close on his heels, pulled him down before our very eyes. 
That was the last Virginian buck I saw killed. 

I found my friend Herndon waiting for me at Princeton 
with the three young niggers, for each of whom he gave 
me a bill of sale at the County Clerk's office. So I be- 
came, for the first time in my life, that most wicked, 
cruel monster, a slave-owner ! 

Strange as it may seem to those whose ideas of slaves, 
and slave-owners, have been formed by " Abolition " 
literature, my young darkies went with me cheerfully 



?$\ 



60 ON THE ROAD TO KANSAS 

and willingly, and were quite as much excited at the pros- 
pect of the new life in the West as I was myself. What 
their ideas on the subject were, or what they expected 
to find when they reached the goal, I know not ; indeed I 
hardly know what my own ideas were. A complete 
change from the past, and new conditions of life, we all 
looked forward to, I suppose. 

New and strange enough conditions I certainly did 
find at my journey's end, and not altogether pleasant 
ones. Had I known what a seething cauldron of evil 
passions and bitter political strife awaited me in Kansas, 
probably I should have turned my steps elsewhere. 
However, we heard but little of the outside world and 
its doings in remote Western Virginia, and little guessed 
that the storm, which would almost rend the Republic 
in twain, was even then brewing, and that I was inno- 
cently and unconsciously going to walk into the midst 
of its uprising. 

At Princeton I said good-bye to many kind friends 
who had made the young stranger's life so pleasant to 
him, and with a " carry all " to convey my chattels, set 
off on a fifty-mile ride to the nearest station on the 
railway to Richmond, the name of which I forget. My 
great friend George Dillon went with me to the station, 
to bring the conveyance back. There we parted, and I 
have never seen or heard of him since, but he lives in 
my memory still as the staunchest friend, finest back- 
woodsman, and keenest sportsman I have ever met. 

Arrived at Lynchburg, where we had to change for 
Richmond, I left my baggage at the station and took my 
darkies and Manor to Seth Woodruff, to whom I had a 
letter of introduction, and who, besides being the largest 
nigger dealer in the State, kept a barrack, where such 
chattels were taken care of for their owners. 

His calling notwithstanding, he seemed a very pleasant, 
good sort of fellow, and was highly respected in the town. 
I spent the evening with him, and he tried very hard to 



SUSPICIOUS SOUTHERNERS 61 

buy my niggers, offering me a price that would have paid 
me well. But that meant their being separated, most 
probably, and possibly getting into bad hands. I couldn't 
harden my heart to that, so refused, and to their huge 
delight took them along with me to the unknown West. 

In those days there were only two classes of tickets 
on the railways, first for whites, and second for niggers 
and dogs ! I therefore took one first and four second 
class tickets for Richmond. On the journey my little 
party and myself were regarded with a good deal of 
curiosity, and some little suspicion. I was manifestly 
a " Britisher," and very young. What was I doing with 
three young niggers, and where was I taking them ? 

Anything touching a nigger was keenly interesting to 
the Southerners, who were suspicious of strangers who 
meddled with them. Runaways were not uncommon, 
and possibly they thought I was engaged on what was 
called the " underground business." When, however, I 
produced my papers they were satisfied, and became 
friendly enough. 

At Richmond I boarded my young folks at the hotel 
with the kitchen niggers, and in the evening gave them 
a permit, countersigned by the landlord, together with 
the price of tickets for the niggers' gallery at the theatre, 
which was an amazing event in their lives. 

Before I could get tickets for Pittsburg in Pennsylvania, 
which was a Free State, official sanction had to be given, 
and proof produced from some undoubted authority that 
the applicant had proper legal title to his black property. 
In this fix I bethought me of Napoleon French, member 
of the State Legislature for Mercer County, who was well 
known to me. The House was in session, and directly I 
sent in my name by a liveried usher I was at once shown 
into the Legislative Hall. It was a handsome, nearly 
circular room ; desks piled up with stationery and books, 
before each member, filled the outer circumference. 
The comfort and convenience of the members appeared 



62 ON THE ROAD TO KANSAS 

well cared for, for there were at least fifty page boys in 
attendance to look after their wants. 

French at once gave the certificate I wanted and I 
bade him good-bye, little thinking that in a few years' 
time that hall would be the theatre of such momentous 
decisions and epoch-making laws as were enacted there 
in Secession times. 

Armed with French's certificate I took tickets to Pitts- 
burg for myself and " chattels," and thence went to 
Cincinnati by steamboat. There I took ferry and crossed 
the Ohio River to Covington in Kentucky, which was a 
Slave State, in which my property would be safer than in 
the former town, which is in Ohio, a Free State. 

Cincinnati was then considered the metropolis of the 
West, and even in those days was a large and thriving 
city, the centre of the pork trade. The river-banks were 
thronged with steamboats and the streets with eager, 
busy folks, the half of whom seemed to be Germans. 

The weather had now set in very cold, and great 
masses of ice were coming down the river. The rivermen 
prophesied that navigation would be stopped before we 
could reach St. Louis, my next point, but I had to push 
on and risk it. So next morning we ferried over the 
Ohio again, and took boat for St. Louis. 

It was a terribly hard frost, and when we got out 
into the mighty Mississippi, the ice was coming down 
the swift-running stream in huge blocks, so that every 
hour navigation grew more difficult. Slowly our ancient 
stern-wheeler pushed her way through the heavy ice, 
and when at last we reached St. Genevieve about night- 
fall, the captain tied her up for the night, to see how 
things looked in the morning. 

The morning brought us little hope, for the frost was 
harder than ever, and it was clear that if it lasted a day 
or two longer the river would be completely frozen over. 
Anxiously we all awaited the captain's decision, and 
when, after breakfast, he made the announcement that 



WHERE IS MANOR? 63 

the old crawler could not move, and might have to be 
tied up all winter, were heartily disappointed. We 
asked for a return of a fair proportion of our passage 
money, but were told that was out of the question, 
though we might remain on board till the voyage was 
completed. 

It was hardly good enough, so four or five of us agreed 
to hire the conveyance of our baggage to St. Louis on 
a wagon which belonged to an old fellow on board who 
was emigrating from Ohio to the great West. The 
patriarch had quite a large family, and what with his 
wife and children, my nigger girl Ann, and all our 
baggage, his poor horses had a pretty good load. 

The wagon was landed, and the party ready to start, 
all but myself, and I was frantically searching for my 
friend and companion, the dog Manor. My boys and 
all my acquaintances helped in the quest, but in vain ; 
nowhere could he be found ? Finally I had to leave 
without him, after adjuring the captain, who expected 
to lay there at least a month, to look out for him 
and write me any tidings he might get to the P.O., 
St. Louis. 

On board the steamer was a party of itinerant gym- 
nasts who had made a great pet of my dog, and they too 
promised to look for him and bring him on to St. Louis, 
which was their destination, if they were lucky enough 
to find him. I little thought the rascals had stolen and 
hidden away my pet, but so it turned out to be. 

About midday we got off on our long and toilsome 
journey, and a curious party we were ! There was the 
rough old Ohian who owned the wagon, with his wife 
and numerous progeny ; a Calif ornian, a scene-painter 
by calling ; two young actors going to play at St. Louis ; 
a young Kentuckian emigrant who had his horse with 
him, which, as we had made great friends, he insisted I 
should ride in tie with him ; and lastly, myself and my 
three young niggers. 



64 ON THE ItOAD TO KANSAS 

Though modesty would prompt me not to mention it, 
yet, as an illustration of ways of thought and social 
customs, I must explain that as an owner of niggers I 
was looked up to as the aristocrat of the party. I might 
have been as ragged and unkempt as a tramp, and with- 
out a dollar in my pocket, yet the fact of possessing 
niggers would have raised me to at least the fringe of 
aristocracy. So it was throughout the South in those 
days. 

The cold was intense, and the road, if road it might 
properly be called, of the roughest, so much so that we 
all had to keep alongside the wagon to push it up the 
slippery slopes. Every creek was frozen, but sometimes 
not hard enough to bear the heavy wagon. Then the 
ice had to be broken, with infinite labour, and the wagon 
got over somehow. Under these conditions we managed 
to travel about fifteen miles a day, halting for the night 
at some farm or other where we could get shelter. 

Rough as the journey was, we all enjoyed it, and were 
as happy as youth, high hopes, good spirits, the bright 
sky, and clear frosty air could make us. Generally our 
lodgings were of the roughest, but one night we halted 
(it was Christmas Eve) at the farm of a French Missourian, 
who entertained the whole party most hospitably and 
got up an impromptu dance for our benefit, which was 
kept up till a very late hour. 

Though I have long since forgotten my host's name, 
I still remember the courtesy of the polite Frenchman 
as a most pleasing contrast to the kindly, but rough 
manners of the native Americans. 

Arrived at St. Louis, I put up at a large boarding-house, 
lodging my darkies in the kitchen with the other niggers, 
and presently, finding that it was impossible to get on 
to Kansas, either by river or road, hired them out in the 
city for $12 a week. I kept an eye on them, and saw 
they were well treated and not overworked. 

My landlord's brother was somewhat of a power in 



15° BELOW ZERO 65 

the city, being Market Master. To him I told the sad 
loss of my dog, and he promised that he would have a 
good look-out kept, and felt confident he would get him, 
if he were brought into the city. He was as good as his 
word, though it was nearly a month before he discovered 
Manor for me. 

I was walking one day in the market when I saw the 
Master ahead of me, followed by a dog. It was Manor 
sure enough, and the moment he saw me he left his 
friend and jumped about me, and on me, in frantic 
excitement, and we were mutually overjoyed to meet 
again. 

The Master had seen him on the stage of a " side 
show," performing tricks, at which he was very expert. 
My friend went behind the scenes, handed his card to 
the manager, and demanded the immediate delivery to 
him of the setter he had got, and which he had stolen 
from a friend of his at St. Genevieve. Of course, the 
man protested that he had not stolen the dog, only 
found him wandering about without his master, whose 
whereabouts he did not know. Anyhow he promptly 
handed over the dog, under threat of a prosecution. 

Harder and harder grew the frost, till the proverbial 
" oldest inhabitant " declared such had never been known 
before in his experience, and a few days after our arrival 
the Mississippi was frozen so solidly that a constant 
traffic of heavy wagons and vehicles of all sorts was 
kept up over the ice, between St. Louis and the Illinois 
side. Walking along the " Levee " it was a wonderful 
sight to look upon the lines of steamboats all frozen in, 
literally miles of them, and one could but wonder what 
would happen when the ice broke up and came down 
the mighty river with its irresistible force. 

When the temperature had fallen to 15° below zero 
Fahrenheit, my landlord's wife died, and a numerous 
concourse of people, of whom I was one, attended the 
funeral ; but the frost was so intense that no grave could 

5 



to ON THE ROAD TO KANSAS 

be dug, so the remains were deposited in the mortuary 
chapel of the cemetery. 

It was weary work waiting in St. Louis, frost-bound, 
without the possibility of moving on, and though there 
were plenty of amusements in the city, such as theatres 
and card and dancing parties, the time hung very heavily 
on my hands. 

After a time I left the boarding-house and took up my 
abode with my Kentucky friend at a hotel in the suburbs, 
to which was attached a large livery stable with standing 
for perhaps two hundred horses, or more. Much card- 
playing went on there, euchre, poker, and seven-up 
being the games. I played pretty often myself, for lack 
of something else to do, and I don't think lost, but 
rather the contrary. At this place I met some curious 
characters and some rather risky ones, and perhaps I 
may mention one or two incidents connected with 
them. 

A " Colonel " Watson appeared one day, with a drove 
of four hundred fine mules, going South for a market. 
With him he had a number of his own niggers. He was 
a pleasant enough old fellow, but his chief characteristic 
was his ability to " punish " unlimited quantities of 
whiskey. 

Seated with him one day in the harness-room of the 
stable, to us appeared a city constable with one of the 
" Colonel's " niggers in charge, whom he had found, 
without a permit, on the ice near the Illinois shore. 
Now the capture of a runaway nigger meant $50 to 
the constable, which the owner had to pay. The Colonel 
was furious at the prospect of having to pay up this 
sum, and went for the unfortunate nigger to flog him 
with a chain he happened to have in his hand. I stepped 
between them, to save the poor wretch, who protested 
his innocence, and declared he was only taking a walk 
on the ice, and had at once given the constable his master's 
name and address. Finding he couldn't get at the 



THE "TURKEY COLONEL" 67 

nigger, the " Colonel " cooled down at last, and listened 
to reason, but he had to pay those $50. 

If he had not been checked when he was so " mad," 
he might have half killed the poor darkey, and nothing 
would have been thought of it. 

Another guest at our hotel was a " Colonel " Howard, 
whose title seemed to be derived from his commanding 
a drove of many hundreds of turkeys. It was his annual 
custom to collect these in Missouri and drive them 
through St. Louis on his way to the Southern markets. 
Just before the frost set in, he had arrived with a 
drove of quite a thousand, which he had driven 
250 miles. The severe weather caused heavy mortality 
amongst his stock, but the old boy, who was a planter 
in a large way and a well-to-do man, with plenty of 
niggers, bore it philosophically, consoling himself with 
the thought that prices would go up. 

The " Colonel " and I became quite friendly, and often 
went to the theatre together. The Batemans were 
running it, and I had the entree to the pit through my 
acquaintance with the Californian scene-painter. 

The last incident I will recall is rather a gruesome one, 
and might have had most serious consequences for myself. 

One afternoon, when a terrible blizzard was blowing 
with heavy snow, two men came into the hotel, and, 
taking off their heavy military cloaks, made themselves 
comfortable in the public room where a lot of us were 
seated. One was a remarkably fine-looking man, of 
good address ; the other seemed of lower stamp, and 
evidently looked up to the first a good deal. Their 
account of themselves was that they had been buffalo- 
hunting, out beyond Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, 
where they had been very successful. They had ridden 
in to St. Louis through this awful weather, and had 
had, as we might guess, a terrible journey. 

The leader said he came from Baltimore, and the other 
from Georgia. Both seemed flush of money, and the 



68 ON THE ROAD TO KANSAS 

Marylander, I noticed, wore a handsome gold watch and 
chain ; his name, he said, was Henry McNutt ; the 
other's William Johnson. 

I took quite a liking to McNutt, he seemed such a 
cheery, pleasant fellow. After having inspected their 
horses, of which they had three very fine ones, we grew 
quite friendly, and agreed to sup together and then spend 
the evening at the theatre, Mr. McNutt insisting on 
paying for the tickets. After the play we strolled 
about the city together, visiting various " side shows " 
and saloons, in one of which latter, towards the early 
hours of the morning, my friends kicked up a terrible row, 
and tried to pick a quarrel with me when I interfered 
to stop the fight. 

Either because they knew I was armed, or for some 
other reason, they thought better of it, and made it up. 

I said good-bye to them next morning, when they 
started in the bitter cold on their journey South, crossing 
the ice to the Illinois side, and thought but little more 
of them till, in about ten days, I had a call from the City 
Marshal. He asked me a good deal about these men, 
and then requested me to go with him to the office of 
Major Walker, the manager and engineer of the St. Louis 
and Jefferson City Railway. The Major asked me 
many questions about my acquaintances, and, when I 
told him all I knew, horrified me by saying they were 
wanted for the murder of his friend and sub-engineer, 
Mr. Gordon. 

It seems Gordon had put up at a farm on the road 
to St. Louis with these two men ; that they had started 
thence together, and that Gordon, who had a valuable 
gold watch and chain, and a large sum of money 
on him, had not been seen since. The watch I saw 
McNutt wearing was his, as also one of the horses 
I had admired so much. 

After a long search Gordon's body was found by a 
dog the searchers had with them, buried in the snow 



THE ICE-FLOOR BREAKS UP! 69 

close to the roadside, with a bullet wound in the 
head. 

A reward of $2,000 was offered for the apprehension 
of McNutt and his companion, and they were caught 
and brought back to St. Louis. Each tried to fix the 
guilt on the other, but at the trial, which took place 
four months later, and to which I was subpoenaed as 
a witness from Kansas, they were both found guilty, 
and presently hanged. 

McNutt 's father was a doctor in large practice in 
Baltimore, and with him, and with the grief-stricken 
mother, I had a most painful meeting after the trial. 

Till the end of February the cruel frost kept every 
one, and every thing, fast bound in its fetters of iron, 
and then it showed signs of yielding. How gladly I 
hailed the coming change ! 

Naturally, I was impatient to continue my journey 
West and begin my new career. To add to this, the 
Press, and the very air, were full of rumours of a conflict 
already begun in Kansas, between Southerners and 
" Free Soilers." Excitement was growing day by day 
throughout the South, and especially in Missouri, and 
I was as keen as the rest to take my part on the 
Southern side. 

Hope of release grew as one stood on the Levee and 
watched hundreds of men sawing the ice round the fleets 
of steamboats, in preparation for the break-up and to 
save them, if possible, from threatened destruction. 

The actual break-up, when it came, was a sight never 
to be forgotten. The melting snows and pouring rain 
brought the mighty Mississippi and Missouri rivers 
down bank-high in flood, and on that united rushing 
stream came the upper ice, piled, at times, nearly a 
hundred feet in height. Before this irresistible force 
and weight the unbroken ice-floor opposite St. Louis 
burst and split and rent with reports like thunder, 
and in the grasp of this hurrying glacier-like stream 



70 ON THE ROAD TO KANSAS 

went nearly all the steamboats to utter wreck and 
ruin. 

Madly they crashed one against the other, and those 
who vainly tried to save them only lost their lives. 
The destruction wrought was estimated at $3,000,000, 
and I don't think it was much exaggerated. It was 
the grandest and yet most awful sight I ever witnessed, 
and held me, and vast crowds, spellbound by the river- 
side whilst it lasted. 



BOOK II 

KANSAS IN 1855-59 



CHAPTER I 



THE RIVAL PARTIES 



Though by the latter end of February the ice on the 
river had broken up, no boats were running, or could 
run, for several weeks. I therefore determined to wait 
no longer, but to ride to Fort Leavenworth on the Missouri, 
a distance of 450 miles. 

Leaving my niggers with their masters, who treated 
them well, I mounted a fine young horse I had bought, 
and set off, one bitterly cold morning, on my long and 
solitary journey. Roads there were none, except near 
the widely scattered farms, and then they were more 
like a series of half- thawed mudholes. 

The country was very different from the Virginian forest- 
lands I knew so well, but the people were the same kindly, 
hospitable folks, making the weary traveller welcome 
to the best they had, and seldom accepting payment 
for their entertainment. So I journeyed on, getting over 
about thirty-five miles a day on an average, and nothing 
worth recording occurred till Independence, an important 
town and Indian trading-post on the frontier of Missouri, 
was reached. There I found the place crowded with 
Missourians and a goodly sprinkling of men from the 
Southern States, all full of excitement over the burning 
question whether the Territory of Kansas, recently 
opened up for settlement, should be Slave or Free. 

The Free State party in the North, managed and 
worked from Faneuil Hall, Boston, had been sending 
up men and arms, and had occupied positions defended 
73 



74 THE RIVAL PARTIES 

by light artillery. The Missourians were crossing the 
river, and volunteers from all the Southern States were 
marching up to the conflict, which might break out at 
any moment. 

In this scene of seething unrest and wild passion, a 
stranger was naturally regarded with suspicion until he 
declared his sympathies. Mine were strongly on the 
side of the South, and, as soon as I made this known, I 
was heartily welcomed amongst the " Border Ruffians," 
as the pro-Slavery party was nicknamed by the Free 
Staters. 

Strong pro-slavery man as I was, I saw a sight, as I 
rode out of the town next morning, that opened my eyes 
to the cruelty and barbarity of the " Institution." A 
slave-dealer was there, with his drove of niggers, collected 
for the Southern market, and in it was one who had been 
sold as a desperate character. Just as I started, the 
unfortunate creature had broken loose, and passed close 
by me in his frantic rush for the woods near by. After 
him came his master and some other men, shouting 
to him to stop. But he was running for life and liberty, 
and held on in desperation. 

He was rapidly nearing the covert when the master 
raised his rifle, fired, and the fugitive fell dead in his 
tracks. It was a brutal deed, done by a brute, but the 
law sanctioned it. It was almost as much as my life 
was worth to remonstrate ; so I held my tongue and 
rode on, sickened and disgusted with this, to me, new 
aspect of slavery. 

That night I put up with " Johnny Cake," the head 
chief of the Delaware Indians in Kansas, on the Delaware 
reserve. He was a tame Indian, spoke English well, 
and was a member of the Methodist Church. He treated 
me very well, and was most hospitable ; but what I 
chiefly remember of my visit is that my host gave us 
a long and very extraordinary grace before and after 
the corn bread and bacon. 



LEAVENWORTH CITY IN 1855 75 

Late the next evening I reached Leavenworth City, 
and, at a wooden shanty dignified with the name of 
hotel, got taken in. 

The " city " was on the Delaware reserve, and was not 
open for settlement ; indeed the U.S. Government had 
warned all squatters off it by proclamation, under heavy 
penalties. But these were " paper penalties " only, 
i.e. never enforced, and were treated as non-existent ; 
especially as it was known that nearly the whole of 
the reserve would be thrown open in the fall. 

In 1855 the " city," now a great centre of the rich 
wheat-growing district in which it stands, consisted of a 
few frame buildings, two or three small stores, and 
the " hotel " I put up at. The Leavenworth Democrat 
represented the majesty of the " Fourth Estate," and was 
edited, printed, and published in a small shanty under a 
big cottonwood-tree by Major Euston, an out-and-out 
Southerner, and a typical specimen of the South-western 
fighting editor. He was the quickest man with his 
six-shooter I ever saw, even in a country where it 
behoved every one to be on the alert. 

The little place was full of gamblers, as all frontier 
settlements were in those days. 

Their " boss sportsman " was a certain A. B. Miller, 
who had run up a shanty with a showily fitted-out bar 
and rooms for the accommodation of the fraternity. 
There roulette, pharo, and poker were going on from 
midday all through the night, and large sums changed 
hands. Now and then some unlucky gambler would end 
his miseries in the mighty Missouri, and many another 
was shot in the saloon itself during the constant night 
rows. 

In those early days there was no law in the city, 
not even a Vigilance Committee, and the sporting frater- 
nity, holding all together, and being well armed, ruled 
without question. They were all " Sound on the goose," 
or in other words, strong pro-slavery men, and their 



76 THE RIVAL PARTIES 

misdeeds notwithstanding, were in a measure popular 
with the rest of the community. 

In face of all these drawbacks, and the prevailing 
ruffianism, I soon made up my mind to risk my fortunes 
in the Territory. With a man named Moses Young 
from Kentucky, a carpenter and contractor, I entered 
into a sort of partnership, with the object of buying up 
likely " lots " and building thereon shanties for the new 
arrivals who kept pouring in. 

If I only had had the prescience to foresee what that 
new country would so rapidly grow to, I might now be 
a millionaire, simply by buying up, and holding on to y 
town lots. 

As soon as I had made this agreement with Young, I 
left my horse and other belongings with him and set off 
for St. Louis to fetch my darkies, and my cash and 
Manor. The soft breath of spring was in the air, spring 
that comes so suddenly and so sweetly in the South- 
western States of the Union, and my six days' trip down 
the river was delightful. Ten days I spent in St. Louis, 
and then started back with my " chattels," my dog, and 
my capital of $2,000, as well as a wagon and harness 
for a team I had bought as a spec. 

The boat was crowded with pro-slavery men, and some 
few Free Staters ; but the latter kept very quiet. At 
Leavenworth the Levee was crowded by the whole 
population, who had turned out to see that our boat 
had brought no arms for the Free Staters. 

Young had found me room in a boarding-house started 
in my absence, and we marched there in great state, 
followed by the darkies ; and their possession gave me 
quite a status in the city ! The landlady of the house 
at once hired my girl Ann at $20 a month, and the two 
boys were as quickly taken for $25 each, and their keep. 
So I had an income of $70 a month, more than enough 
for my modest wants, and felt quite independent. 

Presently I bought another horse and, with my new 



THE SIOUX CAPTIVES 77 

wagon, began carrying, at good paying rates. Then 
Moses Young and I bought a lot and built a Californian 
frame house, in which to live ourselves and board our 
hands, with stabling behind it for our horses. Moreover 
we dug a garden, and planted it ; the only one, I think, 
in all the city. 

About two miles from the city was Leavenworth 
Fort, held by a regiment of U.S. cavalry and two or 
three companies of infantry. The Sioux Indians, then, 
and for some years after, a very powerful tribe, had been 
troublesome, and just before my arrival the troops had 
had a big fight with them. A good many Indians were 
killed, and a number of prisoners taken, which was an 
unusual occurrence in those days, when quarter was rarely 
given by either side. I well remember seeing quite a 
bunch of these inside the Fort, crouching on the ground 
in the bitter cold, wrapped in their coloured blankets, 
apparently quite indifferent to what Fate might have in 
store for them. All the captive chiefs I know were 
shot, but don't remember what was done with the rank 
and file. 

Whilst my house was building, some of the officers 
at the Fort, whose acquaintance I had made, wanted 
to be taken to Fort Riley, some 150 miles west, and I 
contracted to take them in my wagon. It was a 
most delightful trip across the rolling prairies in that 
lovely spring-time, and with pleasant companions. 
We camped out each night except one, when we put up 
at the Pottawattamy Catholic Mission, where the Sisters 
entertained us most hospitably and pleasantly. To this 
day I remember the charm of their courtesy and refine- 
ment ; it seemed like a memory of the past. 

The prairies in those days, one hundred miles back 
from the Missouri, were covered with herds of buffalo and 
antelopes, and, never having seen these before, I was 
astounded at their numbers. The latter were particularly 
tame, and, moved by their insatiable curiosity, would 



78 THE RIVAL PARTIES 

come circling up quite close to the wagon, have a good 
look, and then gallop off again in ever widening circles. 

We shot two buffaloes on our way up ; we might have 
shot hundreds had we cared to do so, but as we only 
wanted their humps it would have been sheer waste. 

After a pleasant stay at the Fort, which, by-the-by, is 
said to be the centre point of the United States, measuring 
from east to west, I departed on my beautiful but 
lonely drive over the vast prairies. 

Having a good supply of hump with me, I did not kill 
any more buffalo, though I passed through many thou- 
sands of them ; a sight that no man now can see, for on 
the prairies where they thronged so thickly they are as 
extinct as is the dodo in Mauritius. 

One night, on my back track, I halted, unwittingly, close 
to the camp of the Delaware chief Bullbone, the leader 
of the warriors of that nation. I confess I felt rather 
uneasy when, just as I had unhooked my horses, the 
chief walked up with three or four " buck " Indians. 
However, it turned out that he was in a peaceful mood, 
and only wanted to trade skins for tobacco and whiskey. 
As neither of us could speak a word of the other's 
language, it was rather difficult to arrange the deal ; but 
we managed it somehow in dumb show, and. he de- 
parted in high good humour, to my great relief, for in 
his presence my scalp seemed to fit rather loosely on 
my head. 

That was my first meeting with a real wild Red Indian : 
I could heartily wish it had been the last, for I thoroughly 
endorse Artemus Ward's opinion that " they are pison 
wherever met " ; and I met a great many of them in 
after days. 

I returned to Leavenworth without adventure of any 
sort, well pleased with the money I had earned, and 
with the rich rolling prairies of Kansas. 

" What a splendid country is waiting the advent of 
the white man ! " I thought. 



HONEST ANN 79 

What a marvellous change the fifty years that have 
passed since then have wrought in it ! Ah ! if, in 
Western parlance, " my foresights had been as good 
as my hindsights," what might I not have done ? 

I should mention that when I started for Fort Riley 
I was much perplexed as to how to safely bestow my 
cash capital of $2,000. I didn't want to take it with me, 
for the benefit of the Indians who might scalp me, and 
there was no one to whom I could entrust it in Leaven- 
worth. Finally, in this fix, I made up my mind to trust 
my nigger girl Ann ; and, as it turned out, I was right. 

The boarding-house where she was employed was 
raised on piles, and, in my presence, she buried my 
bag of money under it at night. On my return we 
went and dug it up, and not a dollar was missing. 
I believe Ann, poor girl, was the only honest person 
in the place ! 

Even then this blessed money bothered me not a 
little, for there was no place of safety for it. Generally 
I carried it about with me, but sometimes buried it, 
and always kept the fact that I had ready money as 
secret as I could. However, Miller, the boss gambler, 
got wind of it, and pressed me to lend him $1,000 on 
the security of his saloon and its good- will. In the 
then state of affairs I couldn't well refuse, so let 
him have it, though with many doubts as to whether 
I should ever see it again. 

The Californian frame house was nearly finished by 
this time, and Ann, the honest, was installed as cook to 
cater for our carpenters, who crowded in for board and 
lodging, at high prices, before even the place was ready. 

Meanwhile the political excitement had day by day 
been growing more intense, and now was at fever heat. 

Quietly and calmly looking back on the situation in 
the United States, one sees quite clearly that the struggle 
for supremacy between North and South, of which the 
fighting in Kansas was only the prelude, had to be decided 



80 THE RIVAL PARTIES 

sooner or later. Further, it is also plain that the two 
sections were so diametrically opposed to each other in 
political ideas that they must have fought it out before 
a peaceful modus vivendi could be arrived at. Negro 
slavery was not the cause of the war, but only one of 
many causes ; nor did the North enter on the struggle 
with the object of freeing the negro. 

The South, broadly speaking, was a landed aristocracy, 
whilst the North was trading and commercial. 

Since the establishment of the Republic, the South, 
with its comparatively sparse white population, had, by 
the voting power given by its negroes (though these of 
course had no votes themselves), ruled the wealthy and 
rapidly growing Northern States, and the yoke had at 
last become intolerable. 

In Kansas the South fought for the right to add to the 
number of Slave States, which was its only hope of re- 
taining supremacy in the Union ; the North to restrict 
slavery within the limits fixed by the agreement arrived 
at in 1820. 

The law of 1787 forbade the extension of slavery North 
of the Ohio River, whilst it prevailed in all the States and 
Territories south of that boundary. Then came the 
purchase of Louisiana by the States — an immense acces- 
sion of territory. The portion round New Orleans was 
admitted as a Slave State in 1812, under the name of 
Louisiana ; but when, a little later, the country round 
St. Louis, on the Missouri, where slavery already pre- 
vailed, applied for admission, as another Slave State, the 
North strongly opposed the application. Finally a com- 
promise was arrived at, by which it was settled that 
Missouri should be a Slave State, but that all the rest 
of the Louisiana purchase north of its southern boun- 
dary, i.e. north of 36° 30', should always be free. 

This was known as the Missouri Compromise, and no 
doubt it deferred the inevitable conflict for many years. 

In 1836 Texas, over which the States had acquired 



SQUATTER SOVEREIGNTY 81 

some vague claim by the Louisiana purchase, revolted 
from Mexico, and set up as an independent Republic. 
In 1845 this short-lived independence came to an end, 
and Texas was annexed by the States, and admitted as 
a Slave State. 

In 1846 war broke out between the Federal Govern- 
ment and Mexico, on questions arising from the 
boundaries of the new State. By the treaty signed at 
the conclusion of the war in 1848, Mexico ceded to the 
States the southern and western portions of Texas, as 
well as New Mexico, part of Arizona, and California. 

Here was an immense accession of strength to the 
South, and the old disputes broke out afresh between 
the two sections. These were finally allayed by the 
expedient of allowing the people of each portion of the 
territory obtained from Mexico to decide the question 
of slavery for themselves ; this was afterwards known 
as " squatter sovereignty." 

In 1850 California was admitted as a Free State, to the 
great disgust of the South, which could not control the 
vote of the emigrants who rushed thither on the dis- 
covery of gold. To pacify this the Fugitive Slave Law 
was passed, under which the Federal authorities were 
ordered to return to their owners all slaves escaping to 
the North. The putting of this in force at once gave a 
great impetus to the party of Abolition, which had 
hitherto been comparatively insignificant in numbers. 

Now in 1854, just before I arrived on the scene of 
strife, the South attempted to apply the principle 
of " squatter sovereignty " to the vast territories of 
Kansas and Nebraska, lying north of the 36° 30' 
line. This was manifestly a breach of the Missouri 
Compromise, and the North was up in arms at once. 

This is a long digression from my story, but it seemed 
necessary to explain, as shortly as possible, the cause of 
the bitter strife in which I played a humble part. 

The Southerners then, whether they had law and right 



82 THE RIVAL PARTIES 

on their side or not, were determined to establish " squat- 
ter sovereignty " in Kansas, and to carry the vote for 
slavery. The Northerners were equally determined they 
should not succeed. 

South Carolina, Missouri, and Texas especially, raised 
war funds and organised companies. 

Henry Ward Beecher, the moving spirit of Faneuil 
Hall, Boston, and his Abolitionist associates, with any 
amount of capital behind them, poured men and arms 
into the territory, regardless of expense. 

The Government at Washington, controlled by the 
Southern Democrats, preserved a benevolent neutrality 
for the Southerners' cause, and did not interfere until 
compelled to do so by the frightful state of anarchy 
which eventually prevailed. 

To stop the influx of men and arms from the North 
into Leavenworth, which was the only easily accessible 
port of entry for them, a " minute company," so called 
from its brief period of service, was formed to search every 
boat, more especially for arms. I joined this company 
directly after my return from Fort Riley, and I remember 
we seized a great number of rifles ; some of them 
Sharp's breech-loaders, two of which were given to me. 

Now the elections for the Territorial Legislature came 
on, and, considered as elections, were of course a farce. 
In many places the Missourians and other Southerners 
seized the polls, and crammed the ballot-boxes. In others 
the "Free Soilers" did the same. The result was that two 
Legislatures were elected ; the pro-Slavery one making its 
capital at Lecompton, and the Free State one at Topeka. 

The rival parties met at the polls and elsewhere, and 
many lives were lost in the fights that took place. The 
excitable Southerners' blood was nearly at boiling-point, 
when Sheriff Jones, elected by them, was shot dead by 
a " Free Soiler," in the execution of his duty. 

Then it boiled over, and the fight became general ; but 
what I saw of it must be left for another chapter. 



CHAPTER II 

WITH " THE BORDER RUFFIANS " 

Fully resolved to throw in my lot with the South, I 
now joined a company of mounted Rangers, raised by 
A. B. Miller, who, though a professional gambler, had the 
reputation of a plucky fighting man, and was at once 
elected orderly sergeant myself. No oath of enlistment 
was taken, but there was no fear of desertion or insubor- 
dination, since death would have been the penalty for 
either crime. 

Our company was the best mounted and equipped in 
the Southern force, and, as soon as we were mustered, 
moved into camp at Salt Creek, about three miles from 
Leavenworth City, where about eight hundred Missouri 
and Southern volunteers were assembled. 

Our commander was " General " Davy Atchison, a 
well-known and influential character in those parts. 
When I met him, and served under him, he was about 
fifty-five years of age, and one of the most popular men 
in his section of the country ; in fact, a typical Western 
politician. A lawyer by profession, he was also a planter,, 
and large slave-owner ; consequently thoroughly " Sound 
on the goose." At this time he was U.S. Senator for 
the State of Missouri, and had been Vice-President of 
the United States. As an Indian fighter and hunter he 
had made himself a great reputation. 

With a somewhat rough exterior, he was really a 
kindly man, and, being " hail-fellow-well-met " with all 
his supporters, was, as I have said, extremely popular. 



84 WITH "THE BORDER RUFFIANS" 

Miller introduced me to the " General " soon after 
I joined the camp. He invited us into his tent, and 
ordered drinks forthwith. Youngster that I was, the 
old fellow received me without any " side " or stand- 
offishness, so that I felt on a friendly footing at once, 
and, like the rest of his followers, would have gone 
anywhere with him. 

Life in camp was pleasant enough at first, for our 
" General " didn't go in for much drill, possibly because 
he didn't know much about it himself, and our principal 
duty was to keep watch and ward over the river and stop 
all passing steamboats to search them for Free Soilers 
and their arms. Those that did not stop when ordered 
were promptly brought to by a field battery we had 
posted on the river, commanding the passage. All 
suspected Free Staters were taken out and kept under 
guard, and of course all their arms were confiscated. 

Our excuse for this rather high-handed proceeding 
was that " The Massachusetts Emigrants' Aid Society," 
with great resources at its back, was pouring men and 
arms into Kansas, with the avowed object of conquering 
and dominating the Territory, by fair means or foul, 
for the Free State party. 

Our first apparently important movement was now 
made on Lawrence, the Northern headquarters, which 
was protected by considerable earthworks and held by 
a force of some two thousand men under Robinson, the 
" Free State " governor, and other leaders of the party. 

I may say at once that, though we did a deal of march- 
ing and counter-marching, and though on several 
occasions a general engagement between the opposing 
forces seemed imminent, it never came to a pitched 
battle ; and all the many lives that were lost in this 
miserable border fighting, were lost in small affairs 
between scouting parties and outposts. Many men too, 
on either side, were killed in this way to pay out old 
scores and gratify private spite and revenge. 



LAWRENCE SURRENDERS 85 

So one fine morning we " Border Ruffians," as the 
enemy called us, struck camp and marched out some 
fifteen hundred strong, with two 6-pr. field-pieces, to 
attack Lawrence, my company acting as the advance 
guard. We halted the first night near Lecompton, our 
capital, my company being on picket duty, spread out 
fan-like some two miles round the camp. Next morning 
Governor Shannon, our own party's governor, paid us a 
visit of inspection, and was pleased to express his high 
approval of our discipline and workmanlike appearance. 

I can't say much for our discipline myself, but there 
is no doubt we were a fighting lot, if only the Northerners 
had given us the chance of proving it. 

The morning after the inspection we marched on 
Lawrence, where we expected a sharp fight, which 
we were fully confident of winning. My company acted 
again as the advance guard, and when, about midday, 
we reached Mount Oread, a strongly fortified position, 
on which several guns were mounted, covering the ap- 
proach to the town, great was our surprise to find it had 
been evacuated. As soon as our general received the 
report, he ordered our company to make a wide circuit 
round the town, to seize the fords of the Kansas River 
and hold the road leading east. 

Then he moved the rest of his force to within half a 
mile of the town, formed square on the open prairie, and 
sent in a flag of truce, demanding an unconditional 
surrender of the place. To the no small disgust of the 
" Border Ruffians," Governor Robinson, without further 
parley, threw up the sponge, and meekly surrendered 
the town and the 2,500 men it contained. 

No doubt his men were not very keen on fighting, 
being the riff-raff of the Northern towns enlisted by the 
Emigrants' Aid Society, and most of them quite unused 
to bear arms of any kind. Many of them bolted for the 
Kansas River ford and the Eastern road ; and we of 
Miller's company took quite three times our own number 



86 WITH "THE BORDER RUFFIANS" 

of these valiant warriors prisoners. I well remember 
how scared the poor wretches were ! I am glad to 
say that the prisoners' lives were spared, all but 
two, and they were hanged by the Provost Marshal for 
horse-stealing, the penalty for which was invariably 
death, in that Western country, even in ordinary times. 

Though the prisoners were spared, I regret to say the 
town was not, for Atchison's men got completely out of 
hand, battered down the " Free State Hotel," and sacked 
most of the houses. It was a terrible scene of orgy, and 
I was very glad when, about midnight, we of Miller's 
company were ordered off to Lecompton to report the 
day's doings to Governor Shannon. There we were 
kept several days, scouring the country for Free 
Soilers, and impressing arms, horses, and corn. 

In these operations we occupied Topeka, the pro- 
Slavery capital, and had a brush with a body of North- 
erners, under Jim Lane, in which we lost two men killed 
and six wounded. 

Next, at " Lone Jack," we had a skirmish with Captain 
John Brown's men, but the firing was at long range and 
no harm was done, for the Free Staters soon retired, and 
we were not strong enough to follow them up. 

On the march, the day after this, to Stranger Creek, 
and whilst scouting ahead of the company with two other 
men, I came on the bodies of two young men lying close 
together, both shot through the head. The murdered 
men, for it was brutal murder and nothing else, were 
dressed like Yankee mechanics, and apparently had 
been done to death the previous night. 

I had heard that one of our scouting parties had taken 
some prisoners, but that they had escaped ; and now it 
was plain what had been done by some of our ruffians. 
That night I told Miller that I would be no party to such 
disgraceful villainy, and that if any more of it went on 
I would quit the company, for I had no mind to fight 
with murderers, or with a rope round my neck. He 



A QUARRELSOME RUFFIAN'S FATE 87 

made light of the whole affair ; said the other side had 
done just the same, and that for his part he did not 
mean to ask for, or give, quarter. 

At Stranger Creek we remained the next day, waiting 
for orders, and a party of the boys was sent out foraging. 
Presently they returned with bundles of green corn, 
some chickens, and a pig or two. The eatables were 
fairly divided amongst the messes, and soon all were 
busy cooking the welcome additions to the ever- 
lasting bacon. But the supply of corn was scanty, 
and there was almost a fight amongst us for it, 
each man being keen to get a bit for his horse. 

What now followed shows how cheaply human life 
was held in those rough times, and how feeble was 
the discipline the Governor had praised so much. 

Amongst the foragers was one Mike Murphy, a bar- 
keeper from Leavenworth ; a very quarrelsome and ill- 
conditioned fellow. He had taken more than his share 
of the corn, and Lieutenant Kelly, a Texan, ordered 
him to hand over part of it for his horse. Murphy 
refused, swore at him, and dared him to come and take 
it. The lieu tenant took no notice of this, but quietly 
stepped over and helped himself to the bundle. 

Murphy seized his loaded rifle, and Kelly bolted for 
the only tent we had standing, using it as a screen. 
Mike thought he saw a chance, took a snap shot, missed, 
then threw down the empty rifle, and ran for the bush. 
Kelly then whipped out his six-shooter, fired three 
times, and missed. 

All this time Murphy was running for dear life, and 
had just reached the edge of the covert, when the lieu- 
tenant fired again. This time his aim was true, and 
the bullet struck the fugitive full in the middle of his 
back. With a tremendous bound, like a shot buck, 
and one piercing scream, he fell in his^tracks and lay 
motionless. 

We carried him into camp, where he lingered till 



88 WITH "THE BORDER RUFFIANS" 

next day, in great agony, and then died. Kelly reported 
what he had done to our captain, and was placed under 
arrest. 

Though in the opinion of the company, or the majority 
of it, he was justified in killing Murphy, it was thought 
best he should resign his position, which he accordingly 
did, and I was elected by the unanimous votes of the 
men to fill the vacancy. To be chosen second Lieutenant 
of such a corps may not be thought a very high honour ; 
but my comrades, whatever else they were, were fighting 
men, and I was proud that they thought a youngster 
like myself fit to fill the billet. 

We now moved on to Leavenworth, where our chiefs 
were every day expecting an attack from the forces led 
by Colonel Jim Lane. This man had made a reputation 
in the late Mexican War, and was placed in chief com- 
mand of the Free State invaders, with all the power and 
wealth of the New Englanders at his back. Therefore, 
as a measure of precaution, a strong laager was formed 
round three sides of the town with chained wagons 
belonging to Major & Russell, the great firm of freighters. 
The fourth side was a bluff overlooking the Missouri, 
and needed no defence. 

Two mounted companies, of which mine was one, 
were camped on Brush Creek, about a mile from the 
Leavenworth line, with pickets spread out in a circle, 
some six miles round. 

Colonel Lane, however, thought himself not strong 
enough to attack us, and drew off to Lawrence, where 
he entrenched himself. So the rival forces remained 
for some time doing nothing, each waiting the other's 
attack. 

Meanwhile much " bushwhacking " and murdering 
went on on both sides, and in this respect there was 
but little to choose between them. 

On scouting duty we were supposed to burn and 
destroy the houses and property of any Free Staters we 



A RISKY VISIT 89 

could find, and to kill, or capture, the owners. Hateful 
enough work that I detested, and avoided whenever 
I could. 

Of course I was often in command of parties sent 
out on such an errand, but I am glad to think that, 
in this position, I was now and then able to save home- 
steads from fire, and their owners from murder. On 
one such occasion I had been instrumental in saving a 
large ranch belonging to a prominent Free Stater named 
Cody ; to this I owe it that I am now alive to tell the 
story that follows. 

One night, whilst on picket duty, I left my party, 
and taking one man, Missouri Smith by name, rode 
over to a ranch some six miles away in the hills near 
Stranger Creek. I fully believed there were none of 
the enemy's scouts in the neighbourhood, and having a 
great attraction at the ranch, in the shape of a young 
lady named Margaret Hendricks, staying there, thought 
I would risk it. I was only twenty-three, so perhaps 
I may be excused. Anyway I fancy the same thing 
has been done often enough before, and for the same 
reason. Bright eyes are hard to resist in the days of 
one's youth. The owner of the ranch, Falk by name, 
was, I knew, in the Free State camp, but his wife and 
her sister, a " Calif ornian widow," were at home, 
and my friend Margaret was with them. An hour 
or two's chat with the ladies would be such a pleasant 
change from camp life, that go I must ! 

We reached the ranch about 9 p.m., seeing no sign 
of the enemy by the way, and hitched our horses to 
the fence close by. 

The only arms Smith and I had were our six-shooters ; 
mine I carried in my belt. 

The ladies welcomed us very kindly, though Margaret 
warned me I was doing a very risky thing, as some of 
Lane's scouts had recently been seen in the neighbour- 
hood, and begged me not to stay. If they caught me 



90 WITH "THE BORDER RUFFIANS" 

they would surely kill me, and I mustn't risk my life, 
but go at once. Boy-like, I laughed at the danger, told 
her she needn't be afraid for me, and stayed on. 

We had supper, and were enjoying ourselves mightily, 
for Margaret had forgotten her fears, when suddenly, 
without the slightest warning, four men fully armed 
burst into the room, a pistol was clapped to my head 
before I could stir, and I was called on to surrender, 

" or my d d head would be blown off." I glanced 

round ; besides the pistol at my head, I was covered 
by four carbines, and my man Smith, who had been 
asleep, was already securely bound. It was hopeless 
to resist, so of course I caved in, and was at once 
disarmed. 

Sergeant Everard, in charge of the party of eight men, 

abused me roundly. " We know you well, you d d 

villain ; we've been after you a long time, and now 
we've got you at last, we'll hang you pretty quickly." 

A pleasant plight to be in ; even a worse one than I 
feared, for I had expected to be shot, not to be hanged ! 
But I was helpless, and could only try to brace myself 
to bear the dread ordeal like a man. 

It was no good to plead for mercy, I knew ; my 
company, or some of its members, had done too many 
ruthless deeds, for which no doubt I had the credit ; 
so I held my tongue. 

But if I was silent, the three ladies, and especially 
Margaret, who knew Everard, and another of the party 
named Cline, begged hard for my life ; but it seemed 
to me, made no impression on our captors. 

They took us out to an oak-tree close by, and got 
ready the ropes, fastening them to an overhanging branch. 
The end seemed very near. I stood stunned and stupefied, 
and said no word ; only the tears and entreaties of the 
kind women folks sounded in my ears, as though heard 
in a dream. During those few moments that I stood 
waiting for my death, the present seemed to vanish, 



THAT AWFUL DANGLING ROPE 91 

and my thoughts went rushing through all the events 
of my short life. So short it seemed, and so sad to end 
it in this terrible way ; and there was no one to tell 
my dear ones in the far away vicarage home how I had 
died. Best after all that they should not know it ! 

Then some one touched me on the shoulder ; the 
ropes were ready, and our captors impatient to be done 
with the hanging. That touch roused me from my 
stupor, and I bethought me of Cody, and what I 
had done for him only a few days ago. I spoke at last, 
and told Everard the story ; asked him to ride over 
to Cody's (it was only two miles off), and he would learn 
that I was not the ruffian they supposed. 

Margaret averred that my story was true, and that I 
had saved Cody, and others of their friends, from ruin 
and worse. She, and the others, begged so hard that 
he would do this little thing, for their sakes, that at 
last Everard consented, though with a bad grace, and 
rode off, leaving Smith and myself safely guarded under 
that oak-tree with its dangling nooses. 

For an hour we stood there, with seven men round us, 
ready to shoot us down if we tried to escape. 

Would Cody come, and would he be true enough to 
speak in my favour if he did ? Hope and despair 
alternated in my mind, and in all my long life I 
have never spent such an hour as that ; the minutes 
seemed hours, and the hour dragged itself out to 
years. 

Now my straining ears caught the distant sound of 
galloping hoofs. Was it one horse, or two ? How 
intently I listened to the dull thud on the soft turf ! 

Nearer and nearer came the sound ; there were two 
horsemen, sure enough. Cody had come, and the bitter- 
ness of death was passed ! 

The moment he heard Everard's story, he had saddled 
his horse ; and there he was, shaking my hand most 
warmly and assuring me I was safe. A moment's 



92 WITH "THE BORDER RUFFIANS" 

whispered conversation apart, between the two men, 
and I was allowed to go back into the house again. 

Everard announced that on Cody's intercession, and 
on his statement of how I had befriended him, and 
other Free Staters, my life, and Smith's, would be 
spared, but we would have to give up our horses, 
arms, accoutrements, and any money we had on us. 
You may be sure we were glad enough to get off even 
on these terms ; so after most warmly thanking the 
ladies, and Cody, for saving our lives, and many hearty 
handshakes, we departed. 

To Margaret Hendricks special thanks were due ; 
for it was her influence with Everard, and her tears and 
pleadings, that saved me from a shameful death. 

I thanked her from my heart of hearts ; and so we 
parted. 

I shall never forget that wretched six-mile tramp across 
the prairie with Smith, who never spoke a word, and 
seemed dazed and stupefied by the experience he had 
gone through. For myself, that hour under the oak- 
tree and its dangling ropes will never be forgotten. 

Arrived at camp, miserable and crestfallen, I got 
a severe reprimand from Miller, but retained my position 
as second Lieutenant, and had to provide myself with 
another horse, accoutrements, etc. 

By this time the lawlessness and anarchy prevailing in 
Kansas had become a scandal to civilisation, and great 
pressure was brought to bear on the Government at 
Washington to put a stop to it. The President therefore 
ordered out two regiments of U.S. cavalry, under Colonel 
Sumner, to keep the peace, and issued a proclamation 
directing both parties to disperse ; the troops to march 
against either side that might disregard it. 

Thereupon we were marched into Leavenworth and 
disbanded, and the so-called Kansas War came to an 
end. 






CHAPTER III 

CLAIM-MAKING, AND SQUATTER RIGHTS 

Though the rival forces were both disbanded, the Terri- 
tory remained in a state of lawlessness difficult to realise 
in these days. To add to the anarchy prevailing, and 
to make " confusion worse confounded," the Delaware 
land sales were coming on. 

These lands by the westward march of civilisation 
had become valuable, and, as usual in such cases, the 
unfortunate Indians had to move on, to make way 
for the white man. The Washington Government 
had made a new treaty with the Delawares, under which 
they surrendered the greater part of their reserve 
in Kansas, receiving other lands in exchange, still 
further West, and an annual subsidy of so much per 
head, payable by the Indian Agent. 

These sections of the reserve, duly surveyed and laid out 
by the Government, were proclaimed for sale (but not at 
the customary " pre-emption " price) on and after a fixed 
date, which I believe was October 31, 1855. Instead 
of throwing the lands open for " pre-emption," the 
authorities determined to sell them by auction to the 
highest bidder ; and knowing this, the squatters, long 
before the time fixed for the sale, seized all the best 
lands, and most of the valuable sites, and banded together 
to protect what they called their rights. 

The squatters' organisation was a very strong one, and 
it was made thoroughly well known that any Northerner, 
or land speculator, who dared to bid against one of the 



94 CLAIM-MAKING, AND SQUATTER RIGHTS 

fraternity for any land he had seized, would be promptly 
shot, or lynched. 

Though the city of Leavenworth swarmed with anxious 
buyers, who had come for the auction with well-lined 
pockets, so great was the terrorism that not one dared 
to compete with the squatters, who all got their lands 
at the Government's upset price of $2.50 an acre. 

The auction took place outside the walls of Fort 
Leavenworth, possibly in the hope that the presence 
there of the U.S. troops might overawe the squatters. 

Surely never did auctioneer in his rostrum face such 
an audience as this one ! From far and near the squatters 
had come, all well armed with six-shooters and bowie 
knives ; and, for the time, pro-Slavery and Free Stater 
men sank their differences and combined against the 
eager speculators from the North. Hundreds of them, fully 
armed, stood round the auctioneer, who, when a squatter's 
land was put up, vainly strove to get an advance on the 
upset price. Not one could he get, poor man, till he 
came to the outlying sections which, though valuable 
enough, were left to the outsiders. 

Three days that auction lasted, and, being a squatter 
myself, I was in constant attendance. It was as stormy 
and threatening a scene as ever I witnessed, but, wonderful 
to say, passed off without bloodshed. 

Of course, like the rest, I got my own particular claim 
of eighty acres, for which I paid $200 and promptly sold 
for $1,500, as it was adjoining Leavenworth City. I 
thought myself pretty clever to have made such a quick 
and good turnover ; but I dare say that land is to-day 
worth $500,000, for Leavenworth City is now one of the 
most important commercial centres in the West. 

Another claim I had on Salt Creek, some distance out, 
I sold for $100 and a very fine mare. 

Now for a brief space I became a bar-keeper and 
gambling-saloon owner, and can't say I liked it, though 
the dollars rolled in freely. Soon after we were dis- 



I TAKE OVER MILLER'S SALOON 95 

banded, on the termination of the " War," I asked 
Miller for the $1,000 I had lent him some months be- 
fore. Now Miller, gambler as he was, was an honest 
man, and frankly told me he hadn't the money, but 
would hand over his bar, saloon and stock, in satis- 
faction of his debt. 

I took them, though somewhat reluctantly, and so 
became a gambling-saloon owner ! For three weeks 
I retained that proud position, doing a roaring trade, in 
more senses than one ; for the land sales were on, and 
the town was crowded. Night after night, and all night , 
I had to look after the place, while the money came 
rolling in ; but I admit the business had its drawbacks, 
and wasn't quite one that a nervous man would choose ; 
my customers were too ready with their six-shooters 
for that. 

Anyhow I got sick of it by that time, and sold out 
for the money it cost me ; so I lost nothing by Miller 
after all. 

Now shortly after the Delaware land sales were over, 
the inevitable policeman, represented by the Government 
at Washington, ordered the Shawnee Indians to " move 
on." Their reserve, situated on the Kansas River, 
had become valuable ; so the usual treaty was made, 
and they had to pack up and be gone. 

Much as I have suffered at the hands of one of their 
tribes, and cruel and merciless as they are by nature, 
one cannot but pity the fate of the Red Indians ; ever 
moving westward before the march of the white man, 
till extermination overtook them, like the buffalo on 
which they lived. 

It was well known that this reserve would be thrown 
open to " pre-emption " in August of the following year, 
at the price of $1.25 (five shillings) per acre. 

By the law of the United States any one could 
establish his right to a claim of 40, 80, or 160 acres 
by laying the foundation of a log cabin, 16 feet square, 



96 CLAIM-MAKING, AND SQUATTER RIGHTS 

on such claim, and cutting his name, the date, and 
number of claim on one of the logs. This " squatter 
right " held good for six months from the day " pre- 
emption " was authorised by proclamation ; and it was 
only legal to make your claim on, and after, that day. 
Thereafter, if you wished to retain your claim, you 
must break up half an acre of ground, put it into some 
sort of cultivation, and build a cabin on the foundation. 

This, as I have said, was the law ; but the custom was to 
make claims as soon as it was known for certain that a 
reserve would be thrown open. If any one " jumped " 
your claim, you had no legal remedy ; it was a case of 
" the strong man armed keeping his house," or rather 
his foundation. So you may be sure there were plenty of 
rows, and not seldom bloodshed, over this claim-making. 

I had sold my house in Leavenworth, and my three 
darkies, being obliged to do so through heavy losses I 
was let in for by my partner Moses Young. I was truly 
very sorry to part with the poor creatures, and I think 
they were attached to me ; but I had no alternative, 
and I found them good masters, which was all I could 
do for them. 

Being then " foot loose," I got up a party of five, 
all well mounted and armed, to make claims in the 
Shawnee country. I provided a wagon and horses, and 
a team of cattle to haul out the foundations, and the 
simple provisions we required ; for these capital outlays 
I was allowed first choice of claims. 

It was bitter December weather when we started, and 
the cold was so intense that we were nearly frozen each 
night, huddled together though we were in our wagon. 
Crossing the Kansas River on the ice we were at once in 
the Shawnee country. However, we were first in the 
field, which was the great thing ; for we knew that a 
powerful organisation had been got up in Kansas City 
to lay claims on the best lands, and to hold them by 
force of arms if necessary. 






"SHAD" THE CLAIM-RUSHER 97 

It would be tedious to tell of all the claims we made. 
Suffice it to say we made a great many, for though the 
law only allowed one man one claim, there were ways of 
evading it ; the commonest being to put them in the 
names of nominees. At last we came to Cedar Creek, 
along which the lands were very fine ; deep alluvial soil, 
well timbered, but not so heavily as to make the clearing 
of it difficult. There we camped, sheltered from the 
piercing cold of the open prairies, in a snug hollow. 
The river was full of fish and " soft turtle," game was 
abundant, and we fared sumptuously. So we stayed 
in this paradise for some time, each man making one, 
or more, claims. 

Mine was close to the river, in a beautiful spot, and 
we put up on it a substantial cabin to serve as head- 
quarters for the whole party whilst we were looking after, 
and guarding, our various claims in the neighbourhood. 
Then we struck across the prairie to the trail from Santa 
Fe to Independence, making more claims as we went. 
Then, having taken up as much land as satisfied even 
us, if we could only hold on to the half of it, returned 
to Cedar Creek. 

There we left a curious old fellow, who went by the 
name of " Shad " (if he ever had any other it had been 
lost), with a generous supply of corn-meal, bacon, and 
whiskey, to look after our interests, a young fellow 
volunteering to stay with him. The old fellow (no one 
knew how old he really was) had spent all his life on 
the frontier ; Indian fighting, claim-rushing, and such 
like were commonplace events to him. Tall and spare, 
with a wrinkled parchment-like face, he must have been 
sixty, or seventy years old, but was as active as a young 
man, and as tough as leather. 

For Indians, and such " varmin," as he called them, he 
had a great contempt, and, in his cups, would boast that 
the Redskin didn't live who could " raise his h'ar." I be- 
lieve he was right, and that he died with it on his head. 

7 



9* CLAIM-MAKING, AND SQUATTER RIGHTS 

In Shad's efficient guardianship then we left our head- 
quarters, and the rest of us returned to Leavenworth, 
crossing the Kansas River on the ice, which by this time 
was pretty rotten, and let us all in, wagon included. 
It was a terribly freezing bath, I remember, but we 
scrambled out somehow in safety. 

Though the " war " had been put a stop to for 
some time, political excitement ran very high. The 
Southern party, owing to Washington influence, was in 
the ascendant still, though the Free State party was 
slowly but surely gaining ground. 

Throughout the South, where he was well known, few 
men were more respected, or more worthy of respect 
than Judge Lecompton, who was the head of such 
justiciary as existed in those parts. In the North, such 
is the evil power of partisanship, he was denounced 
as a second Judge Jeffreys, for whom hanging was 
too good. As a matter of fact he was an able 
judge, and an upright, honourable man. With his 
wife and family he lived in a double log cabin near 
Leavenworth, and there offered to all his friends, of 
whom I was one, a simple and refined hospitality 
which was as pleasant as it was rare in that wild 
country. 

The remainder of that winter I spent in Leavenworth 
settling up my affairs, or riding about the Shawnee 
country looking after my claims. 

Early in the following spring an event happened 
which changed all the future course of my life, and 
eventually landed me in Texas, nearly as wild a land 
as the wild West that I had to leave. 

In Kansas in those days, as I have, I think, shown, 
every man was a law unto himself ; and if he had 
suffered wrong, his own right hand alone could get 
him redress. In the story I am about to tell I came 
very near killing a man, and, though I had suffered 
much at his hands, and he was a big ruffian and bully 



A POT-VALIANT CONSTABLE 99 

whose death would have saved me great trouble and 
heavy loss, I do not regret that I spared his life when 
he was at my mercy. 

It was about the beginning of March, I think, that 
Merril Smith (otherwise Missouri Smith) came and told 
me that he had sufficient evidence to lay an information 
against the man Cline for horse-stealing and threatening 
to kill. Now Cline had been a very active member of 
the party, under Everard, who had captured Smith and 
myself at Falk's ranch, when my friend Margaret 
Hendricks saved our lives. If he had had his way we 
should no doubt have been hanged pretty promptly ; 
and it was he who insisted that, if we were let go, 
our horses, arms, and accoutrements should be taken 
from us. We therefore had rather a heavy score 
against him, and I, for one, was not unwilling to be 
quits with him. So I agreed to lend Smith a hand to 
arrest him. 

A warrant having been issued in Leavenworth, we rode 
off, armed with our six-shooters, to a small settlement 
on the Stranger Creek, near which Cline had a farm, 
to find a constable named Pearson, who was to effect 
the arrest. It was quite late when we found Pearson, 
and when we told him our errand he at once declined 
the business, saying the man was a desperado who had 
quite recently shot two men, and would certainly shoot 
him if he tried to capture him. However, we plied our 
man liberally with whiskey till he became pot-valiant 
and at last consented to serve the warrant, if we would 
protect him. 

The next day was a Sunday, and it was known that 
Cline would be present at a " preaching " to be held at a 
cabin about ten miles up the creek. We got our constable 
off in pretty good time, but he was evidently in a blue 
funk, and would have turned tail if he had had a chance. 
For my own part I confess I did not like the job, but 
having once started on it, one could not turn back ; even 



100 CLAIM-MAKING, AND SQUATTER RIGHTS 

at the risk of being shot, one must in honour go on. 
Moreover I was pretty certain that if any fighting was 
to be done the lion's share would fall to my lot, and 
that was not pleasant. 

Smith and Pearson hitched their horses to the snake 
fence of the cabin, and I dismounted and stood with my 
reins over my left arm, about twenty paces from the door. 
Under the cavalry cloak I wore, I held my six-shooter 
ready for action, and Smith stood near me. Pearson, 
as agreed, walked into the cabin to tell Cline some one 
wanted to see him about buying some of his corn. As 
soon as the door was opened we could see the shanty 
was full of people. Loud and angry voices were heard, 
and presently Pearson emerged followed by Cline and 
three or four of the latter's friends. Directly he saw 
who wanted him he stopped, and the constable, with 
trembling hand, pulled out the warrant. 

The moment he began to read it, Cline vowed he 
wouldn't be taken by us,^or twenty men like us ; declared, 
with many oaths, I was everything vile and bad, and 
ought to have been hanged long ago, and that, if I didn't 
clear out, he would shoot me like a dog. By this time 
he had got his six-shooter out, and there was no time 
to be lost if I wanted first innings. I had him covered 
at the time, but was loath to fire unless obliged to. 

It was now or never I saw, his life or mine, and, as I 
naturally preferred my own, I let drive two barrels, and 
hit my man in the right arm and side. Down he fell, 
and the bullet he had meant for my head whistled 
high over it. Pearson, who held the man in great 
dread, shouted to me to fire again, and finish him ; 
but I couldn't shoot a helpless man on the ground, 
blackguard as he was. 

Now it was high time we were off, for at the sound of 
the firing some twenty men had rushed out of the 
cabin, some with shotguns and six-shooters, and others 
with " rocks " in their hands. Pearson was already 



A RIDE FOR LIFE 101 

up and away ; but Smith's mount, which by-the-bye 
was a mule, had broken loose, and perforce I had to 
wait for him. Pulling up by the side of a log, Smith 
scrambled up behind me, and away we went for dear life, 
as hard as my good mare could gallop. It was a close 
shave, for the enemy fired a volley after us, but missed 
us clean. 

At the Stranger Creek settlement Smith got a horse, 
and we rode on to Leavenworth, where my friends of 
the pro-Slavery party gave me quite an ovation for 
shooting Cline, though it was the general opinion that 
I ought to have finished thoroughly what I had so well 
begun. 

As to our friend the constable, it was said that he 
never stopped till he had put the Missouri between 
himself and danger, so terrified was he at what Cline's 
friends might do to him ! 

Of the man himself I presently heard that, though 
very seriously hurt, he might pull through ; next that 
he was well enough to be sent to his friends in New 
York, and would certainly recover. I soon found that 
no steps would be taken against me on account of this 
little affair, but I made up my mind to leave Leavenworth 
and settle in Johnson County, across the Kansas River 
in the Shawnee country, intending to make my claim 
on Cedar Creek my headquarters. Forth I fared then, 
with my wagon and pair of horses, my saddle-horse, 
provisions, whiskey, arms and blankets, taking with me 
four of my claim-making party. These were named 
Shoemaker, Mike Macnamara, William Hitchcock, and 
Wash Gobel, who all agreed to stand by me whatever 
happened. Shad and the young carpenter were 
already at the camp. 

I found that things were moving fast indeed in the 
reserve, and that joining the claim I had made on the 
Laramie and Kansas City road, a town had been laid 
out, which had been named Monticello, and that a 



102 CLAIM-MAKING, AND SQUATTER RIGHTS 

tavern, groggery, and several shanties were in course 
of erection. Furthermore that my claim had been 
jumped by a party of Missourians, who had put up 
thereon a little frame cabin, where they sold whiskey, 
tobacco, etc. 

I rode over at once and warned these folks that they 
were trespassing on my land, and that I meant to main- 
tain my squatter rights at all hazards. They refused 
to move, but about a month afterwards three of my 
boys rode over one night from Cedar Creek, and so 
scared the two men left in charge of the shanty that 
they moved out the little " plunder " they had, and 
the boys burnt the cabin and restored my old foundation. 
So far so good, but hereafter I was to have a tougher 
job than I thought for to maintain my rights over this 
desirable property, and it eventually landed me in a 
lawsuit, of which more anon. 



CHAPTER IV 

THE FRAY AT MONTICELLO 

All the early part of that spring and summer I was 
busy making claims, and disposing of others, for which 
I got prices varying from $50 to $500. It was a free 
and easy time, with plenty of hunting and fishing, and 
the life was pleasant enough. 

But now I bethought me it was time to settle down, 
and make myself a permanent dwelling-place. I was 
then twenty-seven years of age ; getting quite old, 
and all my life I had been a wanderer on the face of 
the earth ! I would build me a house on my 160-acre 
claim at Monticello, and wander no more — at least 
for a time. 

At once I set to work to haul out the necessary timber, 
which my hands cut on Cedar Creek, and in a short time 
we had a very comfortable one-story log cabin put up, 
with some chimneys. It was quite a mansion for those 
parts, with four rooms in it ; and behind it good log 
stables and " corn-cribs." When all was finished, I 
gave a house-warming party to all the folks in the neigh- 
bourhood. About twenty of us danced all night to 
the music of a couple of violins, and nearly wore out 
our musicians ; for when we did dance out in the West, 
we kept it up with vigour, and polkas and cotillions 
followed each other without much pause, except for 
refreshment. 

So that summer passed away without any incident 
particularly worth recording, and in the autumn, I 

103 



104 THE FRAY AT MONTICELLO 

forget the exact day, the President's proclamation was 
issued throwing open the Shawnee lands for pre-emption. 
Though I had already built a substantial house on the 
claim, I had of course to comply with the requirements 
of the law, and lay a foundation on it, on the day named ; 
and that before any one else could do so, or I should 
lose my right to it. The logs for the foundation were 
all cut, and laid ready, so all I had to do was to put 
them together. At daybreak, on the day appointed, I 
was engaged on this, with my six-shooter in my belt, 
and had all but finished, when I was aware of quite a 
party of men marching along bearing four logs between 
them. 

I walked over to them, and told them quietly they 
were trespassing on my claim, and that if they attempted 
to lay a foundation I would use what force I could to 
stop them, as I was first in the field, and had already 
complied with the requirements of the law. 

" You use threats, do you ? " said the leader of the 
party. " I threaten no one, but I don't think it will 
be healthy for you to steal my property," I answered. 

There was a good deal more wrangling, and at one 
time it seemed as though they meant to fight — they 
were five to one — but at last they cleared out, saying 
they should apply to the U.S. Court for pre-emption, 
as they had been prevented by my threats from laying 
their foundation. This they eventually did, and I had 
to fight them in the Court for the claim. 

Later on that fall, I took service with the great 
freighting firm of Major & Russell, as wagon-master. 
Major we knew nothing of — probably he was a sleeping- 
partner — but " Billy " Russell, as he was commonly 
called, was quite a power in the West, and at Washing- 
ton too, for the matter of that. He owned some 20,000 
working cattle and about 2,000 wagons, or " prairie 
schooners," and did all the freighting west of the Mis- 
souri River to the military posts and forts in the Indian 



FREIGHTING ON THE PRAIRIES 105 

country. It was he who started the " Pony Express," 
carrying mails, by relays of horses, through the hostile 
Indian country to the outlying stations. 

It was a risky employment, fit only for a daring and 
resourceful man to engage in : for the Indians kept 
a sharp look-out for the Express in those days, and 
killed many of the men. William Cody, so well known 
since as Colonel Cody, or " Buffalo Bill," was one of his 
first riders, and perhaps the most successful of all. 

My first trip as wagon-master was from " St. Joe," 
where we loaded up, to the forts on the " Big Blue." I 
had seventy-five wagons, each drawn by eight yoke 
of cattle, a driver to each team, and twelve spare men. 
Under me was an assistant wagon-master, and I had 
two horses for myself, and about a dozen supernumerary 
ones. Each " schooner," which was a lumping great 
thing with a body about twenty feet long, carried a 
load of four to five tons of goods. The whole train on 
the march, in single file, would occupy a length of about 
If miles ; more of course if the ground was boggy, and 
any of the teams lagged. So it was no easy task to keep 
an eye on them all. It meant pretty hard riding from 
morning till night. 

At or before nightfall we made a laager, or " corral " 
as we called it, to guard against Indian attacks. It 
was made in this way : 

The leading wagon was unyoked, and the fore-carriage 
turned at a slight angle inwards ; the next wagon was 
drawn up as close as possible to it, with its hind wheels 
on a level with the front wheels of the first, till a rough 
circle was formed. The cattle-chains were then run 
from the wheel of one wagon to the wheel of that in 
front of it, and the corral was formed. Inside this the 
cattle were unyoked and, if there were no Indian signs 
about, turned out to graze under charge of a couple 
of herders. 

Of course, with a strong party like mine all well armed, 



106 THE FRAY AT MONTICELLO 

there wasn't much fear that the Indians would attack, 
as long as proper precautions were taken and a good 
look-out kept ; the greatest risk was that they might 
stampede your cattle at night, and leave you stranded 
on the prairie. 

Road, properly speaking, there was none, only a track 
some quarter of a mile wide, made by successive trains. 
It was usually easy enough going over the prairie, 
especially as there was a bitter frost, and the ground 
was hard frozen. But every now and then a deep 
creek would have to be crossed, with a muddy bottom, 
and the whole lot of wagons must be hauled through, 
one by one, with perhaps three or four teams to each. 
The long line of cattle would be yoked on, and stretched 
to right or left (" haw " or " gee," it was called), nearly 
at right angles to the wagon ; the drivers with their 
whips then swung the cattle over to left or right, as 
the case might be, and the wagon was bound to come 
out by the sheer weight of the teams, unless, as some- 
times happened, the tongue drew out of the body. 

I was absent several weeks on this trip, and enjoyed it 
much ; the only drawback being the intense cold, which 
almost froze one at night. My pay was $100 a month, 
and all found ; so I was well satisfied, and I think Russell 
was too, for he at once engaged me to look after a big 
lot of cattle he had wintering at Lone Jack, about sixty 
miles from my ranch. The distance was nothing, and 
I gladly accepted the employment at $75 a month. 

If there was plenty of hard work, there was plenty of 
fun going too, and many a good dance we had that 
winter. We all of us, girls as well as men, had to ride 
long distances to many of these, through the keen frosty 
air, and the rides were almost as good fun as the dances. 
One of these, I particularly remember, was held at Olathy, 
the county seat of Johnson County, on New Year's Eve. 
The occasion was the opening of a new hotel at this 
place, which was about ten miles from Monticello. I 



1 AM IN FOR A FIGHT! 107 

got together a party of five girls and seven or eight 
young fellows, all well mounted. 

It was a lovely starlit night, with an intense frost, 
and six inches of snow on the ground. All were in the 
wildest of spirits, and the gallop over the level trackless 
prairie was delightful. 

At the hotel we found quite a big gathering, and as 
soon as the ladies had divested themselves of their wraps 
we were all hard at work at the cotillions and polkas. 
Our host had provided an excellent supper, and of course 
liquid refreshments were in abundance. Everything 
was going off capitally and, what is more, peacefully, 
till the bully of the place, a man named Cosgrove, of 
whom I had often heard, but had never met before, 
picked a quarrel with me in the most unprovoked manner. 
Probably he had a cargo of whiskey on board, or wouldn't 
have done it. 

I was standing at the bar downstairs with some friends, 
when this fellow began, with many very forcible oaths, 
and in a loud voice, to say there was a man from Monti- 
cello he meant to " whip " that night. He fixed his eye 
on me as he spoke, and I knew I was in for a fight. That 
being so, the sooner it was over the better ; so I stepped 
across to him, asking my friends to see fair play, and 
told him he wanted a lesson in manners, and I would 
give it him. 

He rushed at me to clinch, throw, and probably, after 
the manner of his kind, to gouge me if he could. Luckily 
I was too quick for him, met him with a straight left- 
hander between the eyes, and sent him, with a heavy 
fall, against the stove at the end of the bar. He cut his 
head pretty badly against the ironwork, and wanted 
no more fighting that night. I think every one was 
pleased that the bully had got his lesson, for he wasn't 
nearly so quarrelsome after it, and I was looked upon 
rather as a hero by the girls, for taking the bounce out 
of him. So easily is fame won ! 



108 THE FRAY AT MONTICELLO 

At many of the dances I have spoken of, I often met 
Shawnee half-breed girls, daughters, some of them, of 
well-to-do people and fairly well educated, others hardly 
" tame." Amongst the first I remember the two Choteau 
girls, and Mary Owens and Sally Blue Jacket. They 
all dressed like other Western belles, and were good 
dancers ; but some of them were prone to take a little 
too much whiskey. Once when dancing with Sally Blue 
Jacket, who was a remarkably handsome girl, I remember 
the lady pulled a flask of whiskey out of her pocket, and 
pressed me to join her in a drink. It would have been 
rude to refuse so delicate an attention, from so charming 
a partner, and I of course accepted the offer. 

However much I might be occupied, I never lost sight 
of my farm work, and during three months of that winter 
kept hands cutting timber, and splitting it for rails. 
These either Shoemaker or I hauled across the prairie 
about two miles from the Shawnee lands, until I had 
enough to build a " worm " fence, eight rails high, round 
eighty acres. It was a mighty lot of rails, and the haul- 
ing of them alone was heavy work, but the doing of 
it was a pleasure, for when the fence was up I felt I 
should have made a valuable property of my beautiful 
claim, especially when I had ploughed and planted 
my eighty acres in the coming spring. 

Amongst the curious scenes I witnessed about this 
time, the most curious was the hanging, by his own 
people, of a Shawnee Indian who was supposed to have 
committed a murder. Though his crime was in reality 
a mild form of manslaughter, the Shawnee council, 
which by U.S. law had the power of life and death 
over its own people, wished to maintain and exercise 
this right, and so insisted on hanging the poor wretch. 
Not that he seemed to mind it in the least, for he was 
the least excited of all the performers in the tragedy. 
The platform under the gallows, in which was the 
drop, was occupied by the chiefs of the tribe and local 



INDIAN STOICISM 109 

preachers, who, for about two hours or so, " improved 
the occasion," whilst the victim sat in a chair, appa- 
rently utterly indifferent to what was going on around 
him. Round the gallows stood a crowd of white men 
and some Indians. 

The former threatened a rescue, and frequently called 
upon the doomed man, who sat on his chair unbound, 
to jump, and they would save him. Though these calls 
were made in his own tongue, and he must have under- 
stood them, he gave them no heed whatever, but sat 
impassive as a statue. 

When the preachers had exhausted their eloquence 
and came to a pause, the man rose, placed himself on 
the drop still unbound, and waited for the rope to be 
adjusted. A white man named Paris married to an 
Indian squaw, who was the Shawnee sheriff, stepped 
forward, slipped the rope over his head, drew the bolt, 
and the Indian was launched into eternity without a 
cry, or a struggle, or effort to save himself, though his 
hands were free. 

I have seen many exhibitions of Indian stoicism, and 
many a one make his exit from this world, but I never 
saw anything like this man's calm indifference to 
death. 

Johnson County began to fill up a bit with immi- 
grants, and the Governor of the Territory now issued a 
proclamation for the election of County officials. Each 
" township," or district of six square miles, had to 
elect three supervisors, one constable, and one overseer 
of the poor. 

The County Board of supervisors was something like 
our present County Councils, but with greater powers. 
It consisted of the senior supervisors of each township, 
who also had magisterial powers in their own locality. 
I " ran " for supervisor in the Monticello township, 
and being elected at the head of the poll, became a 
member of the County Board. We received $3 a day 



110 THE FKAY AT MONTTCELLO 

pay whilst in attendance at the Board, which met at 
Olathy once a month. 

When my house at Monticello was finished, the " boys " 
made it the headquarters of a Squatters' Association, 
formed to protect our mutual claim-interests, and elected 
me president. We met there regularly once a week for 
the transaction of business, and often besides this there 
would be quite a gathering at the ranch on a Sunday 
for hymn-singing, to the accompaniment of a violin and 
accordion. It may seem strange that men so rough and 
hardened, so inured to bloodshed that they thought 
no more of shooting a man in some trumpery quarrel 
than a jack rabbit, should have been amenable to such 
influences, which for the moment, at any rate, softened 
and subdued their wild natures. But so it was, and 
an atmosphere of peace and quietness reigned at those 
gatherings that was a complete contrast to our every- 
day life. 

I suppose even the roughest and hardest had a tender 
spot somewhere in his nature, and that the hymns 
we sang touched chords in our hearts that vibrated to 
memories of bygone days and other scenes ; I know 
they did in mine. 

About this period I was much away from Monticello, 
looking after William Russell's cattle ranches, on which 
he kept fifteen thousand head of work-cattle, or there- 
about. These, of course, were scattered over wide dis- 
tances, and as I had to look them all up at intervals, I 
was almost constantly in the saddle. 

On my return from one of these journeys I found my 
best hand, poor Shoemaker, in a very serious fix. He 
had accidentally shot a German boarding-house keeper 
named Schleeman, in a drunken row. It seems they got 
quarrelling in their cups, and Schleeman brought out his 
shot-gun. My man, after a struggle, disarmed him, but 
in the struggle the gun went off, and mortally wounded 
the German. He was alive when I arrived, but sinking 



RIVAL SQUATTER ASSOCIATIONS 111 

fast. I went to see him at once, and he fully exonerated 
Shoemaker from all blame. Nevertheless his com- 
patriots, who were rather numerous in the place, were 
in a great state of excitement, and it was all we of the 
Squatters' Association could do to prevent their lynching 
Shoemaker, who had been arrested, and was under 
guard in a room in the hotel. However, the Coroner's 
Jury brought in a verdict of accidental death, and a 
strong party of us carried our man safely off to the ranch, 
where he remained under the segis of the association till 
the matter had blown over. 

I have dwelt much on the lawlessness and ruffianism 
prevailing in Kansas in those days, but I suppose much 
the same state of things existed in other newly settled 
parts of the States before society became organised and 
the law had gained sufficient strength to overawe evil- 
doers. We certainly were a law unto ourselves in Monti- 
cello, and stood sadly in need of some power to restrain 
our evil passions, which had been strongly aroused by 
the conflicting interests of claim making and holding. 

Between our Squatters' Association and a rival organi- 
sation in Monticello, a very bitter feeling existed, and 
one felt that, sooner or later, bloodshed would come of 
it. The leader of our enemies was a hotel-keeper in the 
town, Miliner by name, who undoubtedly was a bully 
and ruffian of the first water ; just such a one as gener- 
ally floats to the surface of such troubled waters. He 
was backed by people from Kansas City and from Mis- 
souri, to whom the desirable claims we held amongst us 
were as so many Naboth's vineyards. I don't pretend 
that all the right was on our side, and all the wrong on 
theirs ; it was a mixed matter, like everything in this 
world is, but it was their " tall talk " and threats that 
led to the row I am going to describe. 

Two of our " boys " had been distinctly threatened 
that if they ventured into Monticello they would be 
shot down. This was too much for my hot-bloods to 



112 THE FRAY AT MONTICELLO 

endure quietly ; so one Sunday morning, stirred up 
thereto by one Molesby, the most absolutely fearless 
man I think I ever met, they determined to have it out 
with Miliner and his crew. I did all I could to dissuade 
them, but in vain ; so of course I had to go too. 

Sunday out West was little observed, unless there was 
a " preaching " going on, and stores and groggeries 
generally did a brisker trade on that day than on others. 
So when we walked across to Monticello there were 
plenty of loafers about, eager to report to my party of 
seven the threats Miliner and company had that very 
day made against us. 

We halted behind Riche's store, which stood on one 
side of the square, opposite Miliner's hotel. Peering 
cautiously round the corner, we could see the barrels of 
several shot-guns protruding from an upstairs window of 
the hotel, which completely commanded the approach. 
It looked like certain death, for some of us at any rate, 
to attack such a position, and again I tried to dissuade 
them from it. But Molesby particularly was " mad," 
and vowed that, if no one would go with him, he alone 
and unaided would " clear out the shop." The man's 
daring was infectious, and, against my better sense, I 
said, " We have no chance, but you sha'n't go alone." 
Then three others, of whom Shoemaker was one, ranged 
themselves by our side. 

We five then dashed across the open space, which 
might be some thirty yards, as hard as we could run, 
making for the bar-room door below the window where 
the guns were posted. Once in we would storm -the 
staircase, and make things lively for Miliner and his 
friends. 

Molesby and I led ; close behind ran the other three. 
We got half-way across, when a volley was fired from the 
window ; Molesby sprang into the air and fell riddled 
with slugs, whilst the rest of us dashed into the open door 
for cover. There for a few minutes we stood irresolute, 



THE DEATH OF MOLESBY 113 

not knowing what to do. Molesby, poor fellow, who 
had urged us to the fray, lay motionless in the square, 
his rifle thrown far from him in his death-spring, but 
still grasping his six-shooter. 

Upstairs all was still ; the enemy didn't seem to relish 
the idea of coming down to attack us, nor, if the truth 
must be told, did we, as soon as we had cooled a bit, like 
the task of storming that stairway. So after a time a 
truce was made, mainly through the influence of three 
of Miliner's party to whom I was known, and we were 
allowed to depart unmolested, and to carry off our dead 
comrade with us. A blessed relief it was to our em- 
barrassment too, for we were like rats in a hole with no 
exit, except by way of that staircase ! 

Poor Molesby had twenty buckshot wounds, and I, 
who was close to him when the volley was fired, had 
three shots through the loose dragoon cape I was wearing, 
so had a very narrow escape. 

The dead man owned a prairie claim, about a mile and 
a half from Monticello, the dispute about which was the 
chief cause of the quarrel that led to his death. There 
I had a grave dug for him, though Miliner and his gang 
swore they would not permit us to bury him in it. Ten 
of us, however, all well armed, laid him to rest in the 
place we had chosen for his last home, and I, with a sad 
enough heart, read the burial service over him. 



CHAPTER V 

THE CAPTURE OE MILINER 

Early in the spring of 1858 I started ploughing, or 
" breaking," my eighty acres of prairie land. I was 
the possessor of two breaking-ploughs, each of which 
was worked by three yoke of cattle ; with one I broke 
my land myself, and the other I let out at $3 a day. 
The ploughs cut a width of thirty inches, and the Indian 
corn was sown in the turned-over sod by chopping 
a hole and dropping in the grain. By this primitive 
culture I got a fine crop of twenty-five bushels of corn 
per acre ; and between the rows had a fine lot of water- 
melons, pumpkins, and cucumbers. 

In June that year I had my first experience of a Western 
tornado. It was on a Sunday, and there was a " preach- 
ing " at Judge Reid's in Monticello, which I attended. 
The heat had been most oppressive all the morning, and 
by three o'clock the sky had darkened and it was almost 
suffocating, for not a breath of air was stirring. The 
people in the town stood about in groups, wondering 
what was coming. I had dined with the Judge, and 
when it was evident a terrific storm was brewing, I invited 
all present to come over to my place, where they would be 
safer in my one-storied log cabin than in their flimsy 
frame houses. They most of them accepted, and we 
hurried across to the ranch and were only just in time. 

Down came the rain in bucketfuls, a perfect deluge 
of water, the sound of which drowned our voices. Sud- 
denly it ceased, and for a minute or two silence reigned. 

114 



A WESTERN TORNADO 115 

Then came the wind, with an appalling roar. It seemed 
to shake the cabin to its very foundations, and for the 
twenty minutes or so that it lasted, the girls of the 
party crouched on the floor, and we all expected the roof 
to fall upon our heads. But the stout cedar logs stood 
the awful strain, and not one of them was displaced. 

Outside in my yard stood two great freighting wagons, 
or " prairie schooners," and they were carried off, and 
dropped in shreds, over a distance of about three miles. 
My log stables were down, and quite a mile of fencing, 
the logs being scattered about the prairie as though they 
were straws. 

In the calm that followed the tornado we all walked 
back to the town, to find it more or less in ruins. For- 
tunately the casualties were few, and only one child was 
actually killed. Curiously enough one small frame house 
was carried out of the town rather more than a mile, 
and was little the worse for the trip. 

The tornado had swept a belt of country forty-three 
miles long by about four wide, and in its course had 
uprooted every tree it encountered, as though they had 
been reeds. 

In the month of August the Land Court, presided over 
by the U.S. Receiver and Registrar, would be held at 
Lecompton, to decide the conflicting pre-emption claims 
on the Shawnee reserve, and I therefore sent in notice of 
my intention to pre-empt my Monticello claim. 

Soon I received notice from the Court that a merchant 
of Kansas City, named Nash, had filed a claim to the 
same land, and that the case would be heard early in 
August. This man was leader of the party I had warned 
off my claim, as related in the previous chapter, and as 
he was much incensed against me, it was clear I was in 
for a big lawsuit. 

Though my title to pre-empt the claim, according to 
" squatter right," and universal custom in the West, was 
undoubted, for I had not only built a house thereon and 



116 THE CAPTURE OF MILINER 

lived in it, but had complied with the letter of the law 
by laying my foundation on the day proclaimed, I felt 
very uneasy as to the result of the case. My opponent 
was a wealthy man for those parts, and, what was more, 
a man of influence with the Free State party, and that 
counted for much ; for these cases went by favour, 
as much as by right. However, it had to be fought 
out ; so I got together my witnesses, six in number, all 
squatters, and we started in good time for Lecompton 
from my ranch. 

One of my friends and I rode ; the rest went in my 
smart two-horse wagon, well " fixed " for a week's 
camping out. It was glorious weather, and the outing 
would have been delightful if one had not been so anxious. 
Our first camp was on a lagoon, off the Kansas River, and 
we caught enough fish for our supper in half an hour, with 
very primitive tackle. The next night we camped in a 
beautifully wooded dell, with plenty of grass and water, 
about half a mile from Lecompton, and then walked into 
the town, where we found there was considerable excite- 
ment over my case, which had aroused a good deal of 
party feeling. 

My antagonist Nash, with his friends and witnesses, 
had pretty well filled up the best hotel, and were in- 
dulging in many sherry cobblers, and much boasting and 
swaggering as to the result of the case, which was to 
come on on the morrow. 

Nash had the impudence to ask me to drink with him, 
and wanted to shake hands. I told him he was attempting 
to perpetrate what he knew was a robbery, and that if 
by some unfair means and hard swearing he succeeded, 
there would scarcely be room for both of us in Kansas. 
This took most of the bounce out of him, and he troubled 
me no more. 

I remember well, even now, at this long distance of 
time, the wondrous beauty of that night in the camp. 
As I laid on my blanket and watched the " great comet " 



I WIN MY CASE 117 

blaze in the eastern sky, I thought I would not exchange 
the scene for the finest hotel in the world. 

The Court sat on my case for three whole days, from 
9 a.m. to 6 p.m., for Nash produced quite an army of 
witnesses, who swore through thick and thin for him. As 
the case proceeded, and each of his men swore harder 
than the previous one that he had been first in the field, 
I grew more uneasy as to the result. Nash, I believe, 
made sure of winning, and the thought of what might 
follow success seemed to weigh on his mind, for many 
a time I caught his eyes fixed on me with a questioning 
gaze, as though he were wondering whether I really 
meant what I had said to him. Be that as it may, he 
had, as it turned out, no cause for fear, for he lost his case. 

The Court decided in my favour, and on payment of 
$240 and some small Court fees I got my title deeds, 
and became absolute owner of the claim. That night 
we had a " high old time " in camp, and next day set out 
on the return to Monticello in great triumph. Arrived 
there, we found a crowd of my friends at the ranch, 
waiting to congratulate me ; for the news of my success 
had outrun us. We got up an impromptu dance that 
night, and celebrated the occasion right royally. 

As I intended to make the ranch my home, for some 
time at least, I added to the house and sunk a well. Before 
doing so I called in a " water wizard," who was highly 
thought of in those parts, and he contracted to select the 
proper site for the well for the modest fee of $5, on the 
principle of " no cure no pay." He stepped about the 
place with the usual hazel wand in his hand, and pre- 
sently drove a peg into the ground, close by the house, 
assuring me I should find water there at no great depth. 
As a matter of fact I did find an abundant supply of 
excellent water, at about twenty feet in depth, and 
cheerfully paid over my $5. I suppose the man was an 
impostor ; but I understand that many people, even in 
this enlightened country, believe in this water-magic. 



118 THE CAPTURE OF MILINER 

I fear the picture I have drawn of life in Kansas forty- 
five years ago may be thought over-coloured by those 
who know nothing of the then state of society in the Far 
West ; but I can assure them that if I had told of all the 
desperate deeds within my knowlege, but in which I was 
in no way an actor, it would be lurid indeed. One more 
scene of brutal and ruthless murder, of which I was a 
helpless witness, I must give, since it is characteristic of 
the times, and of a place where human life was held " at 
a pin's fee," and also because I took great pains, though 
without avail, to bring the chief culprit to justice. 

It was in the month following my triumph at Lecompton 
that a young fellow named Walker, whom I had known 
in Leavenworth, rode down to Monticello on business, 
and then came on to my place to see if he could buy 
a yoke of cattle from me. We had dinner, and then 
smoked and chatted ; for the young fellow was friendly 
and pleasant, and I was glad to see him. Then we started 
out to cross the short strip of prairie between my house 
and Monticello, where the cattle were at work. 

Walker was mounted on his horse, and I was on foot, 
a little ahead of him. Both of us were unarmed ; he 
because he was a quiet, inoffensive fellow, and seldom 
carried firearms, and I because I had a very painful 
whitlow on my right hand, which was in a sling. Things 
were then pretty quiet and peaceful in Monticello, and 
I had no idea that Walker had an enemy there, or 
anywhere else. So we walked on without the remotest 
suspicion of what awaited us so near at hand. 

We had reached the outskirts of the town, when from 
behind Riche's store the man Miliner and another named 
McDougai suddenly appeared with double-barrelled shot- 
guns in their hands. 

Miliner it was who shot poor Molesby in front of his 
hotel ; McDougai had been for some time on friendly 
terms with me. 

They halted Walker, and some words passed between 



UNARMED AND SLEEPLESS 119 

them, the purport of which I did not catch ; then without 
more ado they both fired their shot-guns into the unfortu- 
nate man. He fell from his horse, dead, as I thought ; 
but no, he was still alive, and, sorely wounded as he was, 
scrambled to his feet and ran as fast as he could for a 
small corn-patch close by the hotel. The ruffian Miliner 
fired at him again, as he ran for shelter, but didn't stop 
him. I, all helpless and unarmed as I was, could only 
throw up my arms. The murderers said, " We have 

nothing against you, but we mean to finish the d -d 

scoundrel with you." 

They then set off to hunt their victim out of his shelter, 
whilst several of the inhabitants of the town looked 
on, without daring to interfere, so terrorised were they 
by these two ruffians. Just at this moment two of my 
hay-wagons, with four hands, arrived on the scene, on 
their way to my ranch. I ran down to them directly, 
shouting to them, as I ran, to shoot Miliner and 
McDougal down. Not one of them had a gun, or a 
six-shooter ; but the murderers evidently thought they 
had, for they bolted forthwith, and then the brave 
townsfolk turned out and joined in the pursuit ! 

With one of my hands I climbed the fence into the 
corn-patch, whilst poor Walker, who thought it was his 
murderers coming to finish their work, pleaded most 
piteously for mercy. 

We bore him as tenderly as we could into the hotel, and 
did all we could for him, which was little enough, for he 
was grievously wounded in the back and side, and died 
in great agony about ten o'clock that night, assuring me, 
with his latest breath, that he had no idea why they had 
shot him. 

The moment Walker was safely deposited in the 
hotel, I wrote a note to my friends in Leavenworth, 
urging them to at once bring a strong and well-armed 
party, to hunt down the murderers. By 3 a.m. the 
next morning a band of seventeen of the " Boys " were 



120 THE CAPTURE OF MILINER 

at my ranch, having ridden post haste to my summons. 
All that day and part of the next we hunted the 
country for the villains, but without success ; for, as 
we heard afterwards, they had fled into Missouri. 
Had they been caught, " Judge Lynch " would have 
given them but short shrift. 

Now for the sequel to my story, which is even more 
shameful than the opening chapter, since these cold- 
blooded murderers were allowed to escape the just 
penalty of their crime, and that by an act of the Terri- 
torial Legislature ! 

Three weeks after the murder McDougal was arrested 
at his own ranch, and committed to stand his trial for 
murder at the next District Court. But, having friends 
and money, he was immediately brought up before the 
District Judge, under a writ of habeas corpus, and ad- 
mitted to bail in $4,000. 

About six weeks before the sitting of the Court, Pat 
Cosgrove, Sheriff of Johnson County, having got wind that 
the chief villain of the tragedy, Miliner, was in hiding at 
Atchinson, a small town in Missouri, about thirty miles 
from Kansas City, asked me to bring one of my " Boys," 
and go with him to effect his arrest, if possible ; and I 
readily consented, for I was most anxious to catch the 
scoundrel. 

To ensure secrecy we said no word to any soul in the 
place as to our errand, for we had very reliable informa- 
tion, and felt sure of catching our man, unless, by chance, 
he got wind of our being after him. Crossing into 
Missouri, we easily obtained a warrant for Miliner's 
arrest, from the proper authority, and then rode quietly 
the first ten miles of our journey. After resting our 
horses, we started, well after dusk, to ride the remaining 
twenty miles to Atchinson, meaning to surprise the 
murderer a little after midnight. 

The man was a desperado of the worst kind, and 
wonderfully quick with his shooting-irons. If we 



AT DEAD OF NIGHT 121 

roused him some of us were bound to get shot, so you 
may be sure we went to work very cautiously. It was 
pitch dark when we reached the town, and not a soul 
was stirring in the one street it contained ; nor was 
any light visible ; the whole place seemed wrapped in 
sleep. 

We had such clear directions to go by that, after 
groping about a bit, we found the house we wanted. 
Tying our horses to a fence near by, we took off our 
boots and crept in at the back door, which, luckily for 
us, was unfastened. 

I cautiously lit a candle, and we stood for a moment 
or two at the foot of the stairs, listening for any sound. 
But nothing was to be heard ; the silence was abso- 
lute. We were pretty sure our man was in the house, 
but in which room we didn't know, and must risk 
that. Silently and carefully we stole up the stairs, 
and in the dead stillness of the house it seemed as 
though the slight creaking of the boards, and the sound 
of our breathing, restrain it as we would, must arouse 
the inmates. 

At last we stood on the landing ; on each side of this 
was a door — which should we choose ? There was 
nothing to guide our choice, and at haphazard I slowly 
lifted the latch of that on the right. Peering in, with 
the shaded candle in one hand and my revolver in 
the other, I could make out two beds, both occupied. 
Looking from one to the other, at last I made out 
Miliner fast asleep in the one nearest the door. 

He moved, sat up, and, taking in the situation at a 
glance, made a grab for his six-shooter under the pillow. 
But he was just too late, for before he could handle it we 
were upon him, and Cosgrove had him safely handcuffed 
in another moment. Now we roused up the people of 
the house, and told our story. They were not a little 
astonished to find their place so quietly invaded by three 
armed men, of whom they had never heard a sound, and 



122 THE CAPTURE OF MILINER 

they appeared not very well pleased at our visit. How- 
ever, when they saw the warrant, and knew why we had 
arrested Miliner, they were appeased, and treated us very 
well. Next day, starting at daybreak, we marched our 
prisoner across the prairie, securely fastened to Cos- 
grove's stirrup, to Kansas City, and the following morning 
landed him safely in the gaol at Olathy, where he was at 
once heavily ironed. 

The curses he heaped on our heads during the journey 
were voluminous and powerful, but having got him safe 
enough, after what we thought was a smart capture, we 
let him swear at large, without interruption. He seemed 
to realise that he couldn't escape hanging this time ; 
but what rankled most in his mind was that if he 
must hang, he couldn't kill me first ! 

He was committed for trial, on the charge of murder, 
and, being unable to obtain bail, lay in prison for nearly 
six weeks before the District Court sat. During that 
time I was often at Olathy, on County Board business, 
and there heard from the gaoler and others of the threats 
our prisoner constantly uttered against me, and how 
he vowed to shoot me, if only he got free. This made 
me particularly anxious he should be hanged, and I had 
a justifiable confidence that that would be his fate. 

The District Court was held at Olathy, the county seat, 
early in July, and on the first day of its opening I rode 
over with four or five of my " Boys." The Grand Jury 
found true bills against Miliner and McDougal, and they 
were brought into Court in irons. Their counsel ob- 
jected to this, and asked for the removal of the fetters, 
which the Judge granted, though the Sheriff strongly 
protested, averring that the men were such notorious 
desperadoes he would not be responsible for them if they 
were cast loose. 

The little town was crowded with people from far and 
near, and in the Court itself one could hardly stir, so 
densely was it thronged with excited spectators. The 



MILINER LET LOOSE 123 

murder was a particularly atrocious one, even for Kansas, 
and the interest it created was intense. Walker's two 
brothers, decent, quiet young fellows, had come all the 
way from Ohio to see justice done upon the murderers, 
and if they had only followed my advice they would 
have seen it. 

I was the principal witness for the prosecution, and the 
first called. All day I stood in the box, examined and 
cross-examined by counsel, for and against, who, after 
their kind, managed to spin out even so simple a case 
as this was to an unconscionable length. However, all 
things, even criminal trials, come to an end, and by 
2 p.m. the next day all the witnesses had been examined, 
the Judge had summed up, very much against the prisoners, 
and the jury had retired to consider their verdict. The 
audience in the crowded, stifling Court still kept their 
places, discussing the pros and cons of the case ; and the 
almost unanimous opinion seemed to be in favour of a 
verdict of murder in the first degree. 

At this moment an " Express Rider," his horse all in 
a lather, galloped up to the door, dismounted, and pushed 
his way through the crowd, calling loudly for the Sheriff. 

Cosgrove came forward, and the messenger handed him 
an official-looking document. 

The babble of talk was hushed in a moment, and every 
one wondered, and waited, to know what this strange 
thing might mean. We were not long in doubt, for 
presently Cosgrove announced that it was an amnesty, 
granted by an act of the Legislature, and duly signed by 
the Governor, for all criminal offences committed up to 
date, whether under trial or not ! Was ever such an act 
passed by any other legislative body in this world ? 

Of course, the reason of it was that many of the honour- 
able legislators, and most of their friends, had serious 
misgivings as to what might happen to themselves, for 
deeds done during the " war," and so passed the amnesty. 

The trial was over, and the seeming tragedy turned into 



124 THE CAPTURE OF MILINER 

a farce ; for now the prisoners were brought in, and, by 
order of the Judge, released in open Court. But there 
was a very strong feeling against them both, and espe- 
cially against Miliner. The crowd of angry men who 
watched them slink away could have been roused to 
fury in a moment if the Walker brothers had but said the 
word, and asked for the justice denied them by the Law. 
" Judge Lynch " would have done his work promptly, 
and the world would have been well rid of two remorse- 
less villains. 

But it was not to be ; the Ohio men were too gentle, or 
timid, or too law-abiding, for such an action. 

So Miliner and his partner in crime departed un- 
harmed, and for some time thereafter I, metaphorically 
speaking, slept with one eye open, expecting an attack. 



CHAPTER VI 

LAST DAYS IN KANSAS 

As I said in the previous chapter, mine enemy's escape 
from hanging caused me no little disquietude ; because, 
to keep a whole skin, one had to walk very warily, 
and it did not add to the enjoyment of life to feel that 
he might be lurking privily behind every corner one 
turned, or every clump of bush one passed. 

The very evening of his unexpected release he came 
up to me in the town, very civilly, and asked me when I 
was starting for home, as he would like to ride with me, 
and talk over our differences. It was nearly dusk, and 
I said I was leaving at once, that he was welcome to 
come too, if he liked, but he must keep his hands 
out of his pockets, for, if he touched his six-shooter, 
I would let daylight through him. 

He laughed, saying I needn't be uneasy, as he only 
wanted to be friendly, and would certainly ride with 
me. Very good, I answered, come along then ; I start 
in ten minutes. 

I felt sure he meant to shoot me if he could get the 
chance, so I told two of my " Boys " to ride behind us, 
with their six-shooters ready for action. My " friend 
the enemy " appeared punctually to time, but when he 
saw I wasn't riding alone he suddenly changed his mind, 
said he found he had business to detain him in town that 
night, but would certainly come and see me before long. 
V You will always find me ready whenever you come," I 
said ; and so we parted, to my relief, for though I wasn't 

125 



126 LAST DAYS IN KANSAS 

much troubled with nerves in those days, a dark night's 
ride alongside a murderer, anxious to add you to the 
number of his victims, is not altogether enjoyable. 

At the end of that month of July I went in charge of 
one of " Billy " Russell's trains to Fort Kearney, without 
seeing any more of Miliner, and when I returned home, 
after some three months' absence, found he had left 
Monticello for some unknown destination, having made 
the place too hot to hold him any longer. 

I was offered the charge of a train of seventy wagons 
to Fort Laramie, but I chose that for Fort Kearney, 
though it was only one of forty-five wagons. The latter 
journey, though long enough, was only half the length of 
that to Laramie, and I was anxious not to be away too 
long from home. I loaded up on the Levee at Leaven- 
worth City, and at the Fort, and started on my long 
journey to the south of the Platte River, in the Territory 
of Nebraska, with forty-five teamsters and six extra 
hands. I had two horses for my own riding, and ten 
supernumerary ones ; but there was no assistant wagon- 
master allowed for so small a train, and I had to look 
after it all myself. 

We travelled for weeks towards the " Big Blue " River, 
across an open, rolling prairie country ; treeless as a rule, 
except when we struck a stream lightly fringed with 
timber. There had been a good deal of rain, so water and 
grass were good ; a great thing for the cattle, as 
they got plenty of feed, but it caused many a wagon 
to stick in the mudholes, out of which they had to 
be pulled in the way I have described. 

We were passing through a rather dangerous Indian 
country, for the Sioux and Cheyennes were out on the 
warpath against each other, an occupation which rather 
whetted their appetite for the plunder of freight trains, 
if they could catch them unawares. Indeed, only re- 
cently a strong band of the Sioux had surprised one 
in that very country, and killed every man in it after 



BUFFALO, BUFFALO! 127 

torturing them by fire, as could be seen from the 
" sign " plainly enough. 

Not to be caught napping, I always scouted ahead of 
my train with three spare hands, keeping best part of 
a mile in front of it, with the men widely spread. At 
night, or rather before sundown, I formed my wagons 
into a corral, and if the cattle were grazing outside at 
night, had scouts out round them. We frequently saw 
bands of Indians at a distance, but they never attacked 
us ; probably because they found we were on the alert. 

One night on the " Big Blue " we had a bad scare. It 
was just after sundown, and we had corralled the wagons, 
and all hands were busy cooking at the fires outside the 
circle. A little way off, in the gathering gloom, we could 
see the scouts and cattle-herders rushing the animals 
along for the corral, as fast as they could drive them with 
frantic yelling and much cracking of whips. At first I 
thought the Redskins were upon us, but as the mob drew 
near we could hear the cry of " Buffalo, buffalo ! " and 
realised the situation. 

The fires were made up, and every man stood ready 
with his loaded rifle and six-shooter. 

The cattle came lumbering into camp at the top of 
their speed, and close at their heels followed the vastest 
herd of buffalo I had ever seen. On they came in count- 
less thousands, and the sound of their trampling was 
like the distant, dull roar of the surf on the sea beach. 
If we couldn't turn them aside, they must surely over- 
whelm us by sheer weight and pressure of numbers. 
The whole multitude was on the move to pastures new, 
and, as was the custom of their kind, travelled at a 
steady " lope," or canter ; the hindermost following 
blindly the lead of those in front. 

However, just as the sea of clashing horns and gleaming 
eyes seemed as though it must roll over us, wagons, 
cattle and all, our fires, the shouts of the men, and the 
volley of rifle fire we discharged turned the front rank, 



128 LAST BAYS IN KANSAS 

or rather split it in two. So the great herd passed to 
right and left of our corral, which stood like a solitary 
rock in the midst of a wide and raging flood, and did 
no harm. 

For several hours the buffalo streamed past us, so 
close that we could see the shine of their great bright 
eyes and the dim outline of their shaggy forms. When 
daylight came we found we had killed a couple of dozen 
or so, which was quite as many as we wanted. 

There must have been tens of thousands of buffalo in 
that one herd, and now there isn't a single one on all 
those wide plains ! 

After a week's rest at Fort Kearney, which both men 
and cattle stood in need of, I started back, nearly empty, 
and, making good time, arrived at Leavenworth City 
about the end of October, without any incident by the 
way worth recording. 

" Billy " Russell, a man of few words, appeared satisfied 
with my management of the train, and asked me to 
winter two hundred of his cattle on my ranch, at 
$10 a head ; ten per cent, loss to be allowed, but 
anything above that to be paid for by myself. To this 
I agreed. He also engaged me to look after some of his 
cattle farms in the surrounding country, at a salary of 
$50 a month. 

I accepted this employment, though the pay was 
small, for I was anxious to keep in with Russell, who, as 
I have said, was a power out West. Though " still of his 
tongue," he was bluff and outspoken enough at times. 
To his intimates he was " the Colonel," but not to out- 
siders. If these gave him the title, common enough in 

the States, he resented it. " D you, sir," he would 

say, " I'm no colonel, I'm plain Billy Russell, and don't 
you call me out of my name." 

When I knew him he was at the height of his prosperity, 
but, soon after I left Kansas, came to utter grief. His 
business was enormous, and very difficult to keep proper 



TECUMSEH'S DAUGHTER 129 

control of. Somehow or other he had got to windward 
of the Treasury at Washington, to the tune of some 
$6,000,000 ; it was said through the connivance of some 
of the officials. A committee of Congress was appointed 
to unravel the affair, and they had to call in " Billy " 
himself to help them ; of course under the usual in- 
demnity from prosecution, if he made a clean breast of 
it. This saved him, for there was little doubt that he 
had dipped his hands pretty freely into the national 
till. 

Early in November I got together four or five hands 
and set out to fetch my two hundred cattle from one of 
Russell's " farms " beyond the Kansas River. Winter 
had set in early ; the cold was intense, and riding was 
bitter work. I remember halting the first night at a 
Shawnee settlement near the river, where the Indians 
put me up as best they could. In the one room their 
cabin contained sat an old squaw, cowering over the 
fire ; she looked exactly like a dried-up mummy, except 
that she breathed and lived. Her great great grandson, 
the owner of the cabin, said she was one hundred and ten 
years old, and was the daughter of the great Shawnee 
chief and prophet Tecumseh. This chieftain was 
shamefully treated by the U.S. Government, and his tribe 
treacherously slaughtered and broken up at Ticonderogah, 
just after the War of Independence. 

I worked very hard for Russell all that winter looking 
after his cattle, which necessitated being in the saddle 
day after day, and all day often. Indeed all the years 
I was in Kansas I may say I spent most of my time on 
horseback. 

The wintering of the cattle at the ranch didn't turn 
out a very profitable speculation after all, for though I 
had plenty of fodder and corn for them, the weather was 
very severe, exceptionally so indeed. Then many of the 
working steers had been " alkalied " on the plains, and 
many of them died, despite my utmost care. So, as 

9 



130 LAST DAYS IN KANSAS 



10, the time for handing them over, drew near, 
I was in rather a fix, for I had lost considerably more 
than the ten per cent, allowed. What in the world should 
I do ? Now I knew there were a number of Russell's 
vast herds of cattle that had strayed away from his 
various " farms," and were roaming wild on the plains. 
I therefore got together two or three trusty " Boys," 
and went out to see if I couldn't hunt up some of these 
on the sheltered and well-grassed river-bottoms I knew 
of, where they would be likely to winter. 

After a rare hunt, I was lucky enough to find nearly 
as many of these wild steers as I wanted. It was no 
easy job to drive them to the ranch, but we managed it 
somehow, and when the handing-over came I was very 
few short of my number. Russell received them himself, 
at one of his corrals, and was pleased to express his 
satisfaction at the condition of the cattle. I said nothing 
about his wild steers I had caught, and he paid me on 
the spot. 

That winter of 1858-9, the last one I spent in Kansas, 
was comparatively uneventful. The country was gradu- 
ally settling down, though not in the way my friends 
or myself desired ; for the Free State party had got the 
upper hand, and ruled the Territory, making things 
somewhat hot for us of the defeated faction. 

Though the state of affairs was not altogether so 
pleasant as it might be, we managed to enjoy ourselves 
pretty well in the intervals of hard work, and amongst 
other things had many a good dance. We thought 
nothing of going ten, fifteen, or even twenty miles to 
one of these ; and the ride over the hard-frozen prairie 
in the dry, keen air with a party of girls, who were 
just as much at home on horseback as the young 
fellows who escorted them, was almost as good fun as 
the dance itself. 

Margaret Hendricks, she who saved my life when 
Everard and Cline were so anxious to hang me at Falk's 



MARGARET HENDRICKS 131 

ranch in the " war " time, often made one of the party 
on these occasions. She was the finest and most daring 
horsewoman I ever saw ; even in that country, where 
all the girls had to ride, no one could approach her. She 
could break the wildest horse in a surprisingly short time, 
and make him do just what she liked. One very hand- 
some Indian pony she had that would come to her call, 
and follow her like a dog. She would call him up on 
the prairie, make him kneel down, jump on his back, 
without saddle or bridle, and go cantering off. Then, 
whilst still in motion, she would stand up on his quarters, 
quite at her ease ; I never saw anything in a circus to 
equal it. 

I may say she was as good at taming men as she was 
horses, and laughingly averred she managed both by 
the power of her eyes ! Probably it was so, for I know 
they were large, and dark, and lustrous ; very beautiful 
in repose, but flashing ominously in anger. Indeed it 
would have been a bold man who dared to take a liberty 
of any kind with Miss Margaret ; he certainly wouldn't 
have done it a second time. 

The state of society, and the perfectly free and easy 
terms on which the young folks of both sexes mixed out 
West, would no doubt have scandalised " Mrs. Grundy " ; 
but in reality I never saw, or heard of, any impropriety. 
Moreover the girls were quite capable of protecting 
themselves, if necessary, for most of them were handy 
with a six-shooter, and many of them good rifle-shots. 

Margaret was a beautiful dancer, amongst her other 
accomplishments, and, being very pretty and lively, was 
in great request as a partner. Though her father was a 
Free Stater, he and I were on friendly terms, and he 
never objected to my taking his daughter out to dances, 
and bringing her home at any hour of the day or 
night. 

So she and I became close friends, despite the opposition 
of her brother, a young fellow of about my own age, but 



132 LAST DAYS IN KANSAS 

a bitter Free Stater, who couldn't forgive the part I had 
taken on the other side. He even went so far as to 
threaten he would shoot me (though not to my face) if 
I did not drop the friendship. The girl was very wroth 
at his daring to dictate to her in this fashion, and I 
expect must have given him rather a bad time over it. 

I remember particularly bringing her home one morn- 
ing early, from a dance a few miles out of Leavenworth 
City. The family were all at breakfast, and the father 
greeted me cordially enough, but the brother sat glum 
and silent, ignoring his sister's presence, and taking not 
the slightest notice of myself. Margaret sat silent for 
a minute or two, after greeting the old man ; then her 
eyes began to blaze, and at last she burst out, and gave 
that young fellow such a dressing down as he wouldn't 
forget to his dying day. If he hadn't slunk away I 
believe she would have horse-whipped him ! No doubt 
he was the coward she told him he was, or he would 
have shot me ; but he never went beyond threats, of 
which I took no notice. 

Margaret, with all her outdoor accomplishments, was 
equally great in the house ; was a first-rate cook, could 
spin, and make her own clothes, as indeed all the Western 
girls did in those days, and was a good musician. Her 
uncle was a well-known Bishop of the Episcopal Church 
out West, whose name I have forgotten, and in his family 
she had been educated, till she was seventeen. 

I have dwelt on my friend Margaret at some length 
because, though she far outshone all her compeers in 
beauty and accomplishments, she was a true Western 
girl, of a type which I suppose must, by this time, be 
wellnigh extinct. 

It is forty-four years since I said good-bye to her at 
her father's ranch, and, if she still lives, she must be an 
old woman now, though it is difficult to realise that one 
so full of youth, high spirits and courage should ever 
grow old. I don't like to think of her in that aspect, 



I 



CLINE'S RETURN 133 

but as she was in those far-off days she will always 
abide in my memory, as long as I shall live. 

My sojourn in Kansas was drawing to a close, and 
I had to choose between giving up my pleasant home 
and ranch or standing a criminal prosecution, with the 
probability of a long term of imprisonment to follow. 
I chose the former, and this is how it came about. 

It will perhaps be remembered that I had, unfortu- 
nately., to shoot the man Cline in self-defence when Merril 
Smith and I went to arrest him ; that he was severely 
wounded, but recovered so far as to be able to be removed 
to New York, where his friends lived. As time went on, 
and I heard nothing of him, I fondly hoped that Kansas 
would see him no more, and at last forgot all about him. 
I was destined, however, to have a startling reminder of 
his existence, for the next thing I heard of him was that 
he was back in Leavenworth City, and, the Free Staters 
being in the ascendant, had got himself elected Sheriff ! 

This was in the winter, or rather, very early spring, 
of 1859. I put a bold face on it, and, directly I heard 
the news, rode into Leavenworth to #ae how the land 
lay. 

My friends there reported Cline as breathing the direst 
vengeance against me, and vowing he would " shoot 
me on sight." 

I met him in the street that day, and we passed each 
other without a word ; but he didn't attempt to shoot, 
though I saw he had his hand on his six-shooter in his 
pocket, just as I had. 

I took good care to let it be known in the town that 
I was quite prepared for Mr. Cline, and always went 
armed ; and that as to shooting, two could play at that 
game, as he well knew. But all this bluff notwithstand- 
ing, I returned home in a very uneasy frame of mind. 
I wasn't so much alarmed at his threats of violence, for, 
desperado as he was, he had had a severe lesson, and I 
reckoned that would make him very careful ; but what 



134 LAST DAYS IN KANSAS 

I did dread was his setting the law in motion against me. 
His party was in power ; the judges were Free Staters, 
and my chance of a fair trial was small indeed. 

My farm was in good order, and my crops flourishing ; 
in fact my house and ranch were amongst the best in 
the neighbourhood, and I was very loth to leave them 
and all the good friends I had made in that country, 
which, rough as it was, suited me well in those days. 

But I wasn't prepared to risk the probability of a long 
term of imprisonment, and possibly heavy civil damages 
as well, even for all this, and made my preparations 
accordingly. 

I got together all the cash that was owing to me, as 
far as I could ; had prepared, by a lawyer in Kansas 
City, a deed of sale of all my property to Shoemaker, 
and a mortgage from him to me, as well as promissory 
notes for the value, and then awaited events. None of 
these documents were signed, but were all ready for an 
emergency. 

I don't know why, but Cline made no move till about 
the middle of July ; perhaps he thought he would keep 
me in suspense, which he certainly did. About that 
time, however, I got a message one morning early from 
my friend Pat Cosgrove, the Sheriff of Johnson County, 
that he held a warrant for my arrest, and that, if I 
wished to avoid it, I had best be off at once. By the 
middle of the day I was ready. 

One of my hands brought round two of my best saddle 
horses for Shoemaker and myself. I buckled on my 
six-shooter, threw my saddle-bags, with a change of 
clothes in them, across the saddle, and, with one last 
lingering look at my pretty ranch, set off at full gallop 
for Kansas City, en route for my far-distant home in old 
England, which I hadn't seen for seven long years. 

In Kansas City Shoemaker and I speedily arranged 
our business matters ; and I say at once that no one 
could have acted more faithfully, or more honourably, 



HOMEWARD BOUND 135 

than did this rough Western Borderer to me in all these 
transactions. 

Everything having been prepared beforehand, I was 
in time to catch the evening boat to St. Louis. Shoe- 
maker came down to the Levee to see me off, and 
there we had quite an affecting parting. 

Steam was up as I stepped on board ; the boat cast off, 
and away we went on the first stage of my long journey 
home, whilst my faithful Shoemaker stood and waved 
a last farewell. 

I had once again escaped safely from a very threatening 
danger, and for the moment was happy and content. 



CHAPTER VII 

KANSAS TO CANADA, AND THENCE TO TEXAS 

The journey home, and out again to New York, my 
sojourn in Philadelphia, and my trip to Canada, I propose 
to condense as much as possible, only referring to incidents 
here and there which may be of some interest. 

The great Dominion had not been created in my time, 
and the country I saw round Ottawa was not tempting 
to settlers. 

On the trip down to St. Louis there was an exciting 
episode which I must tell, since it shows how easily a 
free coloured human being could be kidnapped by an 
unscrupulous villain in the days of slavery. 

A Northern man had come on board with a light- 
coloured mulatto woman and her two children. These 
he entered on the books as his slaves, and of course they 
were put on the boiler deck, whilst the supposed owner 
enjoyed himself in the saloon. The woman, who was 
rather good-looking and had some education, told her 
tale to one of the passengers. The white man, she said, 
had made her acquaintance in Kansas City, and persuaded 
her he would provide her with a good home, and care 
for her and her children in one of the Free States, I 
forget which, where he lived. " And now," she said, 
" I feel sure he is taking me to New Orleans to sell 
me for a slave, and I am as free as he is. My little 
ones will be torn from me, but rather than that I will 
drown myself, and them, in the river." 

Her piteous tale impressed her hearers, who repeated 
it to the captain. He heard what she had to say, and 



AN IMPROMPTU JURY 137 

so straightforwardly did she tell her story, that he called 
a meeting of the passengers to determine what should 
be done. The supposed owner was haled before this 
impromptu Court, and both sides were heard. It was 
evident that the feeling was in favour of the woman, 
who adhered to her original statement without variation, 
whilst he contradicted himself, and was manifestly 
lying. Finally his papers, when examined, were proved 
to be forgeries, and he confessed his guilt. 

It was a bad case of nigger-stealing, the most heinous 
of all crimes in the South, and the verdict was death ; 
the sentence to be carried out at the first landing-place. 
To this however the captain, who acted as president, 
would not agree, and it was resolved to leave the culprit, 
just as he stood, on a sandbank in the middle of the 
river. This was presently done, and I have no idea 
what became of the scoundrel. 

A handsome subscription was got up for his victim, 
enough to give her a start in St. Louis, where we left 
her. She had had a very narrow escape, and the poor 
creature's gratitude to her rescuers I shall never forget. 

In St. Louis I interviewed the great firm of Western 
land-agents, Messrs. Pollock & Co. The senior partner 
was well known to me, and to him I frankly told my story, 
placing my affairs unreservedly in his hands. Then I 
took ticket to New York, crossed the Mississippi, and set 
out on my seventy hours' journey. 

Even in those days America was far ahead of us in 
the comfort and convenience of railway travelling, with 
its corridor carriages, dining and smoking cars, etc. 
But the road itself, and the bridges, were not by any 
means perfect. For instance, I remember on that journey 
the conductor requesting all passengers to alight, some- 
where near Indianopolis, as a trestle-bridge in front 
of us was very shaky. We got out and walked ahead 
of the train, whilst the frail wooden structure trembled 
and shook with the ponderous weight behind us. 



138 KANSAS TO CANADA, AND THENCE TO TEXAS 

Crossing the Alleghanies the scenery was very grand, 
and the brilliant moonlight of a glorious summer night 
touched the mountain-tops and flooded all their slopes 
with silver ; whilst in the deep valleys, along whose 
precipitous sides we crept, gleamed far below us the red 
flares of the blast-furnaces. The glamour of the scene 
held me entranced, and all that night I sat out on the 
corridor platform, dreaming dreams of the future before 
me, till daylight broke the spell. 

At New York I put up at the American and European 
Hotel, and for the first time in seven years revelled in 
comfort and luxury. Well-cooked dinners, attentive 
servants, comfortably furnished rooms, and a feather bed 
to sleep on ! Why, the place seemed a palace after the 
cabins of Virginia and the ranches of the West. 

I had to wait four days for a steamer, during which I 
did New York and the Hudson River. The city I thought 
more like an English one than any I had seen in America. 

A twelve days' passage to Southampton, in the first- 
class saloon of a German " Lloyd's " steamer, was a 
revelation of the comfort, not to say luxury of ocean 
travel, for hitherto I had been most accustomed to the 
unsavoury fo'c'sles of ill-found sailing ships. 

It was a perfect summer morning as I journeyed up 
to London through what seemed to me a smiling land 
of gardens and orchards and pleasant homesteads. 
Nothing like the fruitful richness of an English country- 
side in full summer is to be seen elsewhere, that I know 
of, in all the world. It is almost worth the banishment 
of years, only to look upon it once again. 

So, in full enjoyment of the scene, and with happy 
thoughts of the meeting now so near, I journeyed home- 
ward, and in the still, peaceful summer twilight, walked 
through the quiet churchyard, past the grey old church, 
into the vicarage home, to receive a greeting so warm 
that it dwells in my memory still, and will remain as 
long as I live. 



THE OLD HOME 139 

Boys had grown into young men, and children into 
strapping lads, but except for that, and for the one vacant 
chair, my favourite brother's, who had passed away, 
swiftly summoned to that other world in the heyday 
of youth and manly beauty, and now resting in the 
quiet churchyard, to the grief of all who knew him, 
nothing seemed changed. Nothing in the home at least, 
though some kind friends, who had bade me good-bye 
so tenderly, were not there to greet my return. 

Two months I spent at home visiting friends and 
relations, and renewing old acquaintances. Then the 
restless, roving spirit grew strong upon me once more, 
and I must fare forth again to seek my fortunes in the 
West. So early October of the year 1859 saw me cross- 
ing the Atlantic, bound for New York. Thence I took 
train for Kansas, in the hope of settling up my affairs 
and realising my property. 

At St. Louis I learned from my friend Pollock that my 
enemy Cline had obtained judgment against me in the 
Civil Court, for heavy damages, and had refused to com- 
promise in any way. 

Apart from this, there was the criminal warrant out 
against me, and it was quite impossible to return to live 
in Kansas, where, under the existing Free State regime, 
I couldn't hope for a fair trial if I surrendered. So, 
reluctantly, I instructed Mr. Pollock to sell my ranch 
and claim, now growing daily more and more valuable, 
as best he could. 

But I must have one more look at my Monticello home, 
at whatever risk. By boat and train then I travelled 
to Independence, where I found my faithful overseer 
and friend, Shoemaker, waiting for me with one of my 
best horses. Soon we were on the road to Monticello, 
Shoemaker telling me all the news by the way. How 
good it was to have a gallop once more over the open 
rolling prairies ! 

Only a few of my most trusty friends knew of my 



140 KANSAS TO CANADA, AND THENCE TO TEXAS 

coming, and they were at the old place with warm and 
kindly greetings, though these only made the inevitable 
parting more sad. They all pressed me to stay on, and 
they and my other many friends would stand by me to 
the last, they vowed. But it was no good, I knew, for 
I had no chance of success against my enemy ; even 
if they shot him, as they were eager to do, it would only 
get them into trouble and not help me. So, after one 
day's stay, I said good-bye to them all, and having paid 
off Shoemaker and the other hands, sadly enough rode 
off to Independence once more, on my return to St. Louis. 

Having settled my affairs with my friend Pollock, 
I made up my mind to give up roving, and settle down 
somewhere in the more civilised parts of the West as a 
civil engineer. First I tried to enter at West Point, 
which in those days admitted civilians, but failing there, 
went through a course at the Polytechnic College in 
Philadelphia. For one term I managed to keep up with 
the class I joined, but the strain was too great and nearly 
broke me down ; so at the end of it I took out a certificate 
as a qualified surveyor, and gave up the idea of graduating 
as an engineer. 

In the boarding-house at Philadelphia I made friends 
with a man some few years older than myself, who called 
himself Thompson and who said he had been in business 
in the North of England. For a reason I did not know 
till long afterwards, he had thrown up his business and, 
with a moderate amount of capital, had come out to the 
States fully determined to settle down on a farm either 
there or in Canada. His disqualifications for the life 
of a settler in a new country were many and palpable ; 
he knew nothing of farming, couldn't ride, couldn't 
shoot, and was wholly unused to roughing it, but had 
plenty of pluck to go through with anything he undertook. 

My own inclination pointed to Texas and the wild 
life of cattle-ranching on the borders of the Indian 
country ; but Thompson clung to the Canadian idea, 



THE "COLONEL" GOES WITH ME 141 

and, as he was much more fitted for the metier of a farmer 
in a settled country than for Indian-fighting, we finally- 
agreed to prospect the district round Ottawa, and settle 
there if it suited us. 

For three months we travelled about, by road and 
river, and saw the country thoroughly, being hospitably 
entertained by the settlers whenever we put up at their 
houses, though more often we camped out on the banks 
of some river or lake, despite the awful mosquitoes 
which bothered me somewhat, but nearly devoured 
poor Thompson alive. 

We had splendid fishing that summer, and shot a few deer 
for the pot, but nothing befell us worth giving in detail. 

Everywhere there was lumber in abundance, and it 
seemed to be a thriving business for those with sufficient 
capital ; but farming in such a country appeared to be 
hopeless, and meant hard toil without prospect of any- 
thing but a bare subsistence. We were full thirty years 
too soon for the Red River district and the great wheat- 
growing plains of Western Canada, which now offer such 
fine opportunities to men of energy, and I soon made up 
my mind it was no country for me. 

To Texas I must go, and " the Colonel," as I had by 
this time christened Thompson, would fain go with me, 
though I pointed out, as forcibly as I could, the roughing 
and the risk he would probably encounter in a wild land 
like that. 

The die was cast, and on the 13th February we took 
train for New York, en route to the sunny south. At 
New York, where we had to wait a few days because the 
Colonel's luggage had gone astray, I remember seeing 
the ss. Great Eastern, then newly arrived from her 
first voyage from England. From New York we took 
passage by steamer to Savannah in Georgia, en route to 
New Orleans, and curiously enough met on board a 
cousin of poor Madison Molesby who was killed by my 
side at Monticello. 



142 KANSAS TO CANADA, AND THENCE TO TEXAS 

Travelling in the States in the far-away days of 
which I write was very different from what it is now, 
but at last, by stage coach and finally by steamer, we 
did reach New Orleans. That very evil-smelling " Queen 
of the South " was, as is usual at that season, in the grip 
of " Yellow Jack," and we were glad to embark on 
the boat for Galveston and Indianola the morning after 
our arrival. 

Running down the broad Mississippi, how lovely the 
scene was, with waving cane-fields on either bank, and 
then miles of orange groves coming close down to the 
Levee. Years after this, all these latter were destroyed by 
one fell swoop of King Frost. He laid his icy hand on 
their green beauty, and blasted them into dead, bare 
trunks in one night. 

Amongst the passengers was ex-Governor Houston, late 
Governor of the State of Texas. I soon made his acquaint- 
ance, and found him a fine specimen of the Southern 
gentleman, without affectation or " side " of any sort. 
He had been all through the war of Texan independence, 
and had seen much Indian fighting on the frontier. The 
old gentleman was said to be the wealthiest man in the 
State, owning much land and some fine cotton planta- 
tions, and about three hundred negroes. 

He had been to South Carolina to buy slaves, and had 
seventy of them on board with him. All were well clad 
and well fed, and in all my experience I never saw a 
jollier lot of darkies. But then, the Governor was the 
best of masters. It was quite a pleasure to see how 
the old gentleman and his son treated them. Coming 
on deck in the morning, they would gather round him, 
and he would have a kindly word for all, men, women 
and childen, and it was evident that already master and 
slaves were on most friendly terms. If all masters had 
been like Governor Houston, little would have been heard 
of the miseries of slavery ; but of course the trouble was 
that they were only chattels after all, and when they 



MAKING ENQUIRIES 143 

passed into other hands their lot might be as wretched 
as it was then happy. 

Whenever I met any one from Texas, either on the 
cars or on the steamboats, I tried to glean all the informa- 
tion I could about the country, which was entirely new 
to me, except that of course I had picked up what know- 
ledge I could from the books available. From Governor 
Houston and from others, but especially from the 
former, who most kindly answered all my many questions, 
I gathered much valuable information. 

The gist of it was that on some parts of the coast cotton- 
growing was a very paying industry, but required more 
capital than we could command. That in Galveston, 
Indianola, and other coast towns there were fair openings 
for business, but the climate was unhealthy and Yellow 
Jack a not infrequent visitor. That for cattle-ranching 
the best region was in Western Texas, about the Nueces 
and Pecos Rivers, where the pasture was excellent, and 
practically unlimited in extent. That, owing to the 
drought, stock and land too would be cheap. 

Of course there were drawbacks, amongst them dis- 
tance from markets, and Comanche Indians ; in fact it 
was not quite a country for a timid man, or one nervous 
about his scalp. But what would you ? You can't 
have everything you want in this troublesome and 
perverse world, and I was much tempted to try my luck 
in the West country, risks notwithstanding. 

Galveston seemed a busy place, though not much to 
look at, for most of the houses were frame, and many 
unpainted. 

The heat was more intense than ever, if possible, and 
most of the folks were walking about under umbrellas ! 
I delivered a letter of introduction to a Mr. Mills, a 
wealthy cotton-broker, who in his turn kindly gave me 
introductions to Indianola and San Antonio. He fully 
confirmed what I had heard of Western Texas. 

By 5 p.m. we left Galveston for Indianola, by steamer, 



144 KANSAS TO CANADA, AND THENCE TO TEXAS 

and landed at the latter place at five the following 
morning. Here we were then, after all our travels, 
landed on the threshold of our El Dorado. All that 
wide land was before us to choose from. Where should 
we go, and what should we do ? 

The Colonel clung rather to the idea of a town, and 
business of some kind ; my inclinations drew me to the 
open country, and the free ranching life. At any rate 
we would have a good look before deciding. 



BOOK III 

TEXAS, 1860—1862 



10 



CHAPTER I 



PROSPECTING 



It was on August 5, 1860, that we reached Indianola, 
a straggling town of about four thousand inhabitants, 
built in one long, thin line facing the sea, and of rather 
attractive appearance. 

It was with high hopes for the future that I stepped 
ashore on that land of promise, little thinking of the 
awful storm of war gathering so fast around us, and which 
was to involve me and my fortunes in its ruins. Should 
I have turned back had I known it ? I suppose not ; for 
I confess that, once I have put my hand to the plough, 
I don't like turning back. Any way, I was in happy 
ignorance of what awaited me, and I don't think that 
any one in the South, except perhaps some few of the 
leaders, expected war between the two sections. The 
majority of the Southern States no doubt meant to 
maintain their " great Institution," and to stand firm 
for the principle of State rights ; but they thought the 
North would give way, as it had before. 

Nearly forty years have passed since that great fight 
was fought out to the bitter end ; a fight such as, in many 
respects, the world had never seen before, with its furious 
rage, and slaughter and desolation. And now it is almost 
forgotten save by those who took part in it and witnessed 
the agony of the struggle. 

I volunteered as soon as the State declared for Secession, 
and saw a good bit of fighting here and there, under the 
" Lone Star " flag. But as regards the war, which has so 

147 



148 PROSPECTING 

often been depicted in all its heroic details by abler pens 
than mine, I do not intend to dwell upon it ; only to tell 
what I saw with my own eyes, in my own little corner of 
the great field of combat. 

One reason why I did not see more of the great struggle 
was that during part of the time it was in progress 
I was much engaged in Indian fighting on the frontier. 
Directly the U.S. posts were abandoned, or captured 
by our forces, the Comanches, one of the most war- 
like tribes in the States, and always more or less 
troublesome, broke loose, and began harrying the out- 
lying ranches; murdering men, women, and children, 
and sweeping off horses and cattle wholesale. To stop 
this as far as possible and to follow up these murderous 
bands, was the duty I was so often engaged on ; a thank- 
less task enough, in which little honour, or glory, was to 
be gained, but which involved incessant hard work 
and sleepless vigilance. For the Comanches, on the war- 
path, were all mounted on wiry, active ponies. Stark 
naked as the day they were born, and carrying nothing 
but their bows and arrows and tomahawks, and riding 
bare-backed, they travelled light and fast, and were hard 
to catch. At times they managed to retreat to the hilly 
country in the north, where the rocky character of the 
ground made it almost impossible to track them, and we 
had to give up the chase. At others we succeeded in 
overtaking them, and their plunder, when they generally 
showed good fight. 

Of these expeditions I shall have a good deal to tell in 
their proper places, but now I must get on with my story. 

The first thing we saw in Indianola was a County 
election, a free-and-easy affair, the polling-place being 
in the bar of the chief hotel. The voting was by ballot, 
but there was not much secrecy in it, as drinks were going 
liberally, and the voters talked loudly of their favourite 
candidates. There we were introduced to many of the 
residents by a Mr. Harrison, a turtle preserver and packer, 



A SOUND OF RAIN 149 

to whom I had brought an introduction. Everybody 
was friendly, and hospitably inclined, especially in the 
matter of drinks ; so that the difficulty was not to get 
enough, but to avoid getting too much, without giving 
offence. The intense heat and drought probably led the 
hospitable Indianolans to wish to moisten their visitors ; 
any way, they wouldn't let you " go long between your 
drinks." 

That same evening we went out to Harrison's turtle 
establishment, and were shown the process of curing 
and the salt-water reservoirs, in which he kept some 
dozens of the largest turtle I ever saw. On the way out, 
the heavens suddenly grew black with clouds. There was a 
sound of rain. The long drought had broken up ; and, just 
as we reached the house, down it came plump, as though 
out of a vast bucket. The change it wrought was mar- 
vellous ; it was like coming out of a hot oven into a cool, 
delicious air, and we sat for some hours in a room 
projecting over the shallow waters of the bay, drinking 
in the freshness. I am bound to confess there were 
other drinks however, and it was late before our kindly 
host would let us return to the town. 

This was the first rain since early in April, we were 
told. Four months of drought in a burning heat like that ! 
No wonder the people, and the land, were thirsty ! 

We hung about in Indianola till August 20, undecided 
what to turn our hands to ; at one time thinking of 
buying a steamboat, to trade along the coast, and then 
of starting a store. But these prospects came to nothing, 
so, weary of inaction, I insisted on leaving by stage for 
Victoria, about twenty-four miles distant, the following 
day, to see what the country was like in that direction. 
It had rained almost incessantly during our stay, till our 
hotel, and the slightly raised ground on which it stood, 
became an island, accessible only by wading. The roads 
therefore were in a frightful state, and the four good mules 
in the stage could only get us along a mile an hour. 



150 PROSPECTING 

It was Court day in Victoria, and crowds of people, 
bad roads and weather notwithstanding, came in. If we 
were to prospect the country, we must have horses, and 
here was the chance to buy ; for there were plenty for 
sale, though most, owing to the drought, were in bad 
condition. At last we found two pretty good-looking 
half-breeds, one four, and the other five years old. The, 
former had only been backed a few times, but the latter 
was " gentled," and would suit the Colonel. I found my 
animal not only difficult to mount, but not easy to sit 
when you were up, for he was one of the worst buck- 
jumpers I ever rode. His late owner wanted to bet he 
would throw me before I could ride him a mile, but when 
I offered to take him up for all the loose cash he had, he 
backed out. 

Next we bought a Texan outfit — saddles, saddle-bags, 
bridles, etc. — and started the following day for Goliad 
County, thirty miles distant. For two miles the road 
lay along the Colets River, through mud almost deep 
enough to bog you ; then we crossed to the opposite bank 
and came out on a prairie, high and dry, on which the 
grass was just starting. In the crossing the Colonel 
nearly came to bad grief, for the river was in slight flood, 
and in the middle his horse got into a quicksand and 
went under. But the water fortunately was only breast 
high, and the Colonel got clear of his fallen horse with 
an agility that surprised me, so that nothing worse than a 
bad ducking befell him. 

Arrived at Goliad Court House we determined to 
prospect the country about the upper reaches of the 
Nueces River, an affluent of the Rio Grande. 

But perhaps I had better explain what we were looking 
for. It was a good ranch with plenty of grass and water, 
and not too many cattle on it. No one in Western Texas 
cultivated the land ; the climate was far too dry for that, 
and during all the years I lived in the State I never tried 
to make even a garden. It would have been labour in 



OUR CAMP "FIXINGS" 151 

vain. The whole country, therefore, was open and 
unenclosed, save for the few acres round each ranch 
used for cattle-pens, or corrals, which the rancher had 
bought ; so cattle and horses roamed over it at their 
own sweet wills, and he who owned fifty acres had just as 
good a chance as he who owned many leagues, if he 
hadn't too many neighbours. 

Though the country was good for cattle we found it 
too heavily stocked for our purpose, and so struck across 
to another stream — the Agua Dulce— via Banquetta. 

Hitherto we had put up at the ranches we came to, 
but now made up our minds to camp out and be inde- 
pendent ; far the best way to see a new country. So 
at Banquetta I bought a good Spanish horse, to carry 
our pack, for $30, and then at the store got the camp 
" fixings " and provisions necessary. The Colonel left 
it all to me, in simple faith, though he soon regretted 
his confidence when he discovered how lightly equipped 
I meant to travel. The fixings were two pint tin cups, 
to serve as coffee-pots, buckets and cups ; two blankets, 
and two overcoats. The provisions were 1 lb. of coffee, 
some sugar, hard bread, or biscuit, and a lump of 
bacon. All these were put in a sack and, with our 
saddle-bags, blankets and coats, fastened pack-fashion 
on the led horse. 

For miles and miles we rode over a flat country with 
plenty of grass, though little timber, steering by compass, 
and seeing no one but a Mexican or two, but always 
plenty of deer. By sundown we came to a creek, with 
water and grass. There we stripped our tired horses, 
and picketed them. Very soon I had a brew of coffee 
ready, and slices of bacon roasting on sharp sticks over 
the fire. A camp supper good enough for anybody ; 
at least so I thought, and heartily enjoyed it. Not so 
the Colonel, who, not used to camp fare, grumbled 
ruefully at the scantiness of the provender. 

Then I spread my blanket under me and, with my 



152 PROSPECTING 

Mexican saddle for a pillow and the starlit heavens for 
a canopy, soon fell asleep in the balmy air of the summer 
night, and stirred not till peep of day. My unfortunate 
friend was awake too, and declared he had scarcely 
slept a wink the whole night : the ground was so hard, 
and the mosquitoes so troublesome ! 

The second day out we got into a waterless country, 
and one that had been pillaged and overrun by Cortinas 
and his thieving, murdering Mexican guerillas. For 
a day and a night, in the burning heat, we rode without 
a drop of water, and it was only when we and our un- 
fortunate horses were clean done up, and could scarcely 
move, that we came out of a dense grove of chaparral 
right on a Mexican ranch with a good well of water. I 
can remember that drink of cool spring water now, 
as one of the best I ever had. 

For two or three days more we traversed that district, 
taking great care not to go so long between our drinks 
again ; and then, having satisfied ourselves that it wouldn't 
do for us, turned south to Corpus Christi on the Gulf, 
at the mouth of the Nueces River. This was partly to 
interview an important business man to whom I had an 
introduction, and partly to replenish stores, etc., before 
taking a further plunge into the wild prairie country of 
the west of the State. 

Corpus, or rather the upper part of it, is a typical old 
Spanish town, with some fine churches and other buildings, 
but as sleepy and dirty as are all Spanish towns I have seen. 
The bulk of the people were Mexicans, or " Greasers," 
as they were always called in Texas ; but there was a 
good sprinkling of Americans in the lower, or business 
part. I remember things were rather lively in the 
American part, for some men had been shot in an election 
row ; a Vigilance Committee had been formed who were 
administering Lynch law with much vigour, and perhaps 
not quite so much discrimination as could be wished. 
Therefore it behoved one to walk warily, and not express 



A CHANCE MEETING 153 

one's opinions too freely, lest contempt of Court should 
be committed, which is a serious matter within Judge 
Lynch's jurisdiction. 

By the afternoon of September 4, the day after 
our arrival, we had finished our business, and started 
with a well-laden pack-horse, on what would probably 
be a month's ride, to thoroughly explore the country 
fifty or a hundred miles up the Nueces River, which by 
all accounts was the ranching district we wanted. Before 
leaving the town I bought a double-barrelled shot-gun, 
with which to take toll of the deer ; for I felt that the 
Colonel would no longer endure, without revolt, an un- 
varied diet of biscuit and bacon. Moreover he had 
so hungrily eyed the bunches we passed on the previous 
trip, that it was only fair he should taste venison as 
soon as possible. I knew he would be disillusioned 
when he did taste it, for it is the driest of meats ; 
but he must have his chance of forming his opinion 
of it. 

Riding leisurely along that hot afternoon we were 
overtaken by a man well mounted, and armed, with 
whom I soon struck up an acquaintance. He was a 
very pleasant, cheery fellow, and as our roads lay to- 
gether till we reached a ranch some miles ahead, we 
became quite friendly, and parted, I think, with mutual 
regret. He told me his name was Davis, and that he 
was a lawyer in Corpus Chris ti. 

What strange coincidences and unexpected meetings 
there are in this world ! Here was a man casually met 
on the wide prairie, chatted with for an hour or two, 
then parted from ; neither of us expecting to see the 
other again. But Fate willed it otherwise, and we 
were to meet again twice in this mortal life. At that 
second meeting, the story of which is rather strange, 
and will be told in its proper place, my friend probably 
owed his life to our casual meeting on the prairie near 
Corpus Christi. 



154 PROSPECTING 

Well, for the best part of a month we rode over the 
country between the Rio Grande and the Nueces, and 
finding nothing to suit us, struck north to Castroville, 
a small town on the Medina River, twenty-five miles 
west of San Antonio. Occasionally we put up at a 
ranch, to get information or to replenish our stock of 
provisions, but generally camped out. Thompson's lust 
for flesh was fairly satisfied since, with the gun, we 
could get as many mule-eared rabbits as we wanted, and 
every now and then a deer ; but the lying out on the 
hard ground and the ever-present mosquitoes were a 
sore trial to him. So was our pack pony too. His 
manners, when first we made his acquaintance, were not 
perfect, and did not improve with time. Possibly, with 
the marvellous instinct of his race, he had found out that 
the Colonel, whose office it was to personally conduct 
him at the end of a long lariat, was no horseman and, 
in his secret soul, somewhat afraid of his charge. Any 
way, the little demon took advantage of his conductor 
with fiendish ingenuity. Sometimes he would hang 
back and refuse to budge ; at others, taking the poor 
Colonel unawares, run round and round him, winding 
him up in the toils of the lariat till he was quite helpless, 
and then drag him out of his saddle. I never saw any- 
thing more comical than my poor friend in this plight ; 
but his language was unfit for publication, and I verily 
believe he entertained the same vengeful thoughts 
against the pony as Balaam of old against his quadruped. 
But the old fellow was good-nature itself, and his wrath 
was soon appeased. 

From Castroville, finding nothing to suit us, we made 
for the Bandera Creek country, forty miles north, riding 
through the pass of that name, where shortly before 
there had been a desperate fight between the Indians 
and a detachment of U.S. troops and some settlers. 
The former were badly " whipped," but the latter lost 
a good many killed, as could be seen from the number 



VIGILANCE COMMITTEE'S WORK 155 

of little wooden crosses dotted about round the scene 
of conflict. 

This was quite different from any country we had 
previously seen ; high rolling prairie, almost hilly, with 
much dwarf-oak timber and sedge grass, through 
which the Bandera River ran, a beautiful clear stream 
shaded by great cedars. A lovely country to look upon, 
but not good for ranching, it seemed to me. 

Having seen enough of that section, lovely and pic- 
turesque as it was, we saddled up and departed, via the 
Cibollo and Salado Creeks, for San Antonio. That night 
we camped near a water-hole, on a rolling prairie with 
little grass, not far from the Salado. We hobbled the 
Colonel's enemy the pony but let the horses loose, and 
in the morning they had vanished. I saddled the pony 
and started to hunt them up, leaving Thompson in 
charge of the camp. 

The ground was dry and hard, and the trail difficult 
to follow ; but I tracked it to the Salado Creek, on either 
side of which was a good deal of timber and thick brush, 
in which I completely lost it. Slowly making my way 
through the dense undergrowth for the crossing for 
San Antonio, I put up hundreds of turkey-buzzards 
quite close to me. Looking round for the dead steer 
I supposed they were feasting on, I was suddenly aware 
of two men hanging from a live-oak tree just in front 
of me. Torn and mangled, almost out of the semblance 
of poor humanity, by the loathsome birds of prey, they 
were the most gruesome, horrible sight I ever saw, and 
with one glance I made off as fast as my pony could 
scramble. 

In San Antonio I learned the poor wretches were 
horse-thieves, who had been caught and hanged by the 
Vigilance Committee about a week before. 

I shall have more to say later on about this same 
committee, and its deeds of ruthless murder ; indeed 
I could fill pages with the tales of its crimes, only they 



156 PROSPECTING 

would then be too full of bloodshed. Without that, I 
shall have to draw a very lurid picture of the state of 
things in Texas as I saw it ; when lawless men were 
a law unto themselves, and did such deeds that one 
shudders to remember them. 

Having lost all trace of the horses, I made for San 
Antonio, and fouud it the largest and busiest place I 
had yet seen in Texas. At the livery stable, the boss 
found me a little dried-up Mexican vacquero who, he 
said, for $10 would find my horses, if they had not been 
stolen, and were still on earth. I struck the bargain 
with the old fellow, " no cure no pay," and sure enough 
he brought in my lost property the next evening ! 

I had left Thompson all by himself in camp for two 
days and a night, and he hadn't had a very lively time, 
being convinced that I was lost. For his own part he 
knew he was lost too, for he had no idea of finding his 
way across a pathless prairie, and was consequently 
delighted to see me turn up with the missing steeds. 
The old fellow had not been short of food, for he had 
shot, and eaten, several mule-eared rabbits. 

We now struck across the prairie to the Medio Creek, 
situated about fifteen miles from San Antonio, and on 
the El Paso road to Mexico. There was a ranch there 
which, from what we had heard, seemed desirable. 
After a good look round we concluded to buy, if the 
price was right, though for different reasons : my friend 
because it was an admirable site for a store, being close 
to the crossing of the Medio, where most of the trains 
passing to and from Mexico camped ; I because I thought 
it a fair cattle ranch, with plenty of water and enough 
grass. There were a thousand acres of it, belonging 
to a widow in Castroville, who, we were told, was anxious 
to sell. 

We soon came to terms with the widow, and, finding 
her title good, paid her $1 an acre for her property. 
Next, having engaged two German carpenters to put 



SECESSION IN TEXAS 157 

up the buildings we wanted, I rode off to the Atacosa 
country, about sixty miles from San Antonio, and 
bought 250 cows and 5 bulls as a beginning. 

We both, I think, were well pleased with our new 
possessions ; certainly the Colonel was delighted to 
find rest for the sole of his foot, for he was heartily 
weary of prospecting and all its hardships, and I was 
glad to have made a fresh start at last. 

Throughout December 1860, and January and February 
1861, we lived in our camp, superintending the building 
operations and looking after our cattle, but early in 
March the Secession movement in Texas, which had 
long been gathering in force, culminated in an attack 
on the U.S. troops in San Antonio, and I threw in 
my lot with the South as a Volunteer. 

I do not propose to dilate further upon the causes of 
the dreadful Civil War, now on the point of breaking out, 
which have been argued out so fully on both sides ; 
nor to attempt to apportion the blame for the internecine 
strife which slew so many hecatombs of men, and de- 
vastated some of the fairest regions of the earth. All 
I will say is that we of the South believed in our very 
souls that our cause was a just one. We made a brave 
fight, as I think all the world allows, for what we thought 
our rights, and, losing, paid the penalty for our mistake, 
if mistake it were, to the uttermost farthing. 

The excitement throughout the South had been 
growing day by day during the summer and autumn 
of 1860, and when in November of that year Abraham 
Lincoln was elected President, it blazed out into Secession, 
South Carolina taking the plunge into civil war by 
firing on, and capturing, Fort Sumter. 

In Texas the Secession movement was somewhat com- 
plicated and confused by the action of Governor Houston. 
He it was who had brought the State into the Union, for 
when first freed from Mexican rule it had set up as an 
independent Republic. When therefore it became clear 



158 PROSPECTING 

that the South meant to cut herself loose from the North, 
Houston conceived the idea of keeping Texas out of the 
confederacy, making her once more independent, and 
conquering Mexico ; which seems to show that he had 
more daring than foresight. However, when he refused 
to recognise the act of the State Convention, ratifying 
the ordinance of Secession, that body declared his office 
vacant, and so an end of him and his schemes. 

But I must go back to the beginnings of things, at 
least as far as I was concerned. 

Though I was of course aware that the feeling between 
North and South was getting more and more embittered, 
I was too busy that season prospecting to give much heed 
to politics, and, if I thought of them at all, believed the 
heat would cool down again, as it had so often done 
before. I had seen things pretty warm in Kansas, but 
nothing had come of it all ; so I went about my business, 
thinking it was a wrangle amongst the politicians which 
would settle itself in due course. This merely shows how 
little outsiders know of what is passing around them, and 
how difficult it is to judge of the awful forces lying hidden 
in the deeply stirred political passions of a nation. For 
here was I, and many thousands like me, on the very verge 
of one of the greatest cataclysms of modern times and 
wholly ignorant of its imminence ! 

It was about the end of October that I got the first 
inkling of what was going on. The Presidential election 
campaign was then in full swing, and Thompson and I 
rode into San Antonio to attend a great political meeting, 
held in the Alamo Plaza. There was a vast crowd assem- 
bled, in which parties were fairly evenly divided, for there 
was a considerable German population in the town and 
neighbourhood, which was Northern, or Unionist, to a 
man, while all the " Boys " were of course strongly 
Southern. There were all the inflammable materials 
gathered together, only wanting a spark to set them 
ablaze. 



THE ALAMO PLAZA MEETING 159 

At one end of the Plaza was a long platform for the 
speakers, and behind it the Menger Hotel, from which 
floated the Stars and Stripes, so soon to be displaced by 
the " Lone Star " flag. A well-known and very popular 
Episcopal Methodist Bishop, whose name I have forgotten, 
made a most eloquent speech calling upon all who were 
men to stand up for their sacred rights, and to defend 
their cherished institutions from the intolerable arrogance 
of the Northeners. He set the hearts of the Southern 
men on fire by his strong appeals to their local patriotism, 
and the excitement rose to fever heat. Revolver shots 
were fired in the air, whilst through the square rang 
frantic yells of "Down with the Yankees; to h — 11 
with the Abolitionists." 

In the midst of this up rose a Mr. Anderson, a man of 
wealth and education, who had been U.S. Consul at 
Constantinople. He was a fearless man, for he must 
have known that to make a " spread eagle " speech to 
such a crowd was almost more than his life was worth. 
Nevertheless he pluckily essayed to do it ; but as soon 
as the " Boys " realised his drift, six-shooters in hand, 
and with one wild yell, they stormed the platform and 
swept it clear of friends and foes. Then the shooting 
grew unpleasantly promiscuous, and Thompson and I 
cleared out as best we might, and luckily, unscathed. 
There was more shooting than killing, I believe, for the 
Unionists showed but little fight ; but the Colonel was 
horror-stricken at the wild scene, and vowed never to 
go to an election meeting again as long as he lived — at 
least, not in America. 

An association called the Knights of the Golden Circle 
had by this time its ramifications all over the South, and 
was particularly strong in Eastern Texas. Ostensibly 
formed to protect Southern rights, its real object was to 
bring about Secession, and all its weight was thrown into 
that movement. 

It had " lodges " everywhere, with secret signs, and 



160 PROSPECTING 

passwords, and all its members were under semi-military 
discipline. The night of the great meeting I have de- 
scribed, I joined the San Antonio lodge of the K.G.C., 
and in so doing committed myself as a strong partisan 
of the Southern cause. 

But Thompson wisely held aloof, as indeed he did up 
to the time of his death, two years after, telling every one 
that he was an Englishman, and had nothing to do with 
their quarrels. For the credit of the people, wild and 
lawless as they were, I must say no one ever molested or 
reproached him on this account ; but on the contrary, 
being a good-natured, pleasant fellow, he was well liked 
and popular wherever he went. Had I but taken the 
same calm, common-sense view, what a difference it 
would have made to my future ! 



CHAPTER II 

AN INDIAN FORAY 

At the outbreak of the Civil War, San Antonio was the 
headquarters of the U.S. troops in Texas, where many 
forts and posts were held to keep the Indians in check 
and to guard the Mexican frontier. At the time of my 
arrival in the country, Colonel Robert E. Lee, as he then 
was, held the command of the Texas military district, and 
I had the pleasure and honour of an introduction to him 
on one of my first visits to San Antonio. It was after the 
Episcopal Church service, held in the Masonic Hall, that 
an acquaintance of mine made me known to him. We 
chatted for a few minutes, and I never saw him again, 
though I served under him in a subordinate capacity when 
he so gloriously commanded the Confederate forces. 

Let me briefly describe him, as he appeared to me that 
Sunday morning, Tall, and somewhat spare in figure, 
with a soldierly bearing that revealed his profession at a 
glance, he looked, what indeed he was, every inch a gentle- 
man. Courteous, and dignified in manner, but without 
the slightest assumption, he was beloved by all who came 
within the charm of his personal influence. At this time 
he was about fifty- three years of age, but his dark hair 
was untinged with grey, and his blue eyes were bright 
and undimmed beneath his black eyebrows. It is said 
that the bitter struggle between his duty to his country, 
in whose service he had already spent thirty years of his 
life, and his duty to his State (he was of the bluest blood 
in Virginia) aged^him rapidly. The awful responsibility 

161 11 



162 AN INDIAN FORAY 

of the high command he held throughout the war, and 
the misfortunes of the cause for which he so nobly fought, 
were enough to bow down any man. 

But if they changed his face and bent his form, they 
left his soul untouched and still attuned to the lofty ideal 
of duty he followed as his guide through all his life. I 
think there is no other man who has appeared on the 
world's stage worthy to be compared with him, save our 
own General Gordon. To both, self was nothing and duty 
everything ; and both were " without fear, and without 
reproach." 

Colonel Lee left Texas early in 1861, called to Washing- 
ton by the President, who offered him the supreme com- 
mand of the Federal army. But he could not fight against 
his State, or the cause he deemed to be just, and resigned 
his commission in a most touching letter addressed to 
General Scott, his old comrade in arms and commander, 
dated April 20, 1861. This is given in extenso in the 
Life and Campaigns of General Lee, written by his 
nephew, E. Lee Childe, p. 32. 

Colonel Lee was succeeded at San Antonio by General 
Twig, a very different man. His command comprised a 
regiment of the U.S. infantry, two batteries of artil- 
lery, and a company of cavalry, posted in a strong fort 
just west of, but adjoining, the town. In the fort were 
great quantities of military stores and munitions of war, 
and these our newly established Government was par- 
ticularly anxious to capture. So in the early days of 
March, 1861, the " Committee of Safety " made an urgent 
call for volunteers, which was promptly responded to 
by all the K.G.C. lodges in Eastern Texas, and to a certain 
extent by those in the west of the State. 

Colonel Ben McCullogh had been commissioned as 
Commander-in-Chief of the State forces, and soon moved 
to within a few miles of San Antonio with two thousand 
men, mostly mounted. There he camped, and was 
speedily reinforced by Hive hundred more volunteers, of 



GENERAL TWIG NO EIGHTER 163 

whom I was one ; for though our ranch and corrals were 
still unfinished, I felt I must obey the call to arms. 

It was a formidable force mustered in that camp, for 
though it couldn't boast much discipline, all the men 
were well mounted, and most of them expert rifle and 
revolver shots. With just a little training, what a brigade 
of irregular cavalry it would have made ! We were not 
encumbered by our supply train, for each man was his own 
commissariat department, and carried his own rations in 
his " malletas." 

The night I joined, orders were issued that we were to 
parade at eleven o'clock dismounted, and march the three 
miles into San Antonio to attack the fort. The position, 
as I have said, was a strong one, and could have easily 
been held by General Twig had he had any fight in him, 
for we had no artillery. We of the rank and file fully 
expected a sharp tussle, not only with the U.S. troops but 
with the Germans, who made up quite half the population 
of the town. Our leaders, I suspect, knew better. 

Marching in columns of companies, and in dead silence 
in the darkness of the night, we went right into the town 
without encountering even a picket-guard. This was 
singular enough, and didn't look much as if Twig meant 
fighting. Our commander, however, played the game as 
though it were in earnest, and occupied every command- 
ing position as he advanced. My company, eighty strong, 
was ordered to take post on the flat roofs of those Mexican 
houses, the fire from which would command the whole 
of the Alamo Plaza. We got up easily enough without 
any opposition, and there we stood with loaded rifles for 
four mortal hours, and still no shot was fired, though 
every moment we expected the ball would open. At 
7 a.m. the mystery was explained, for the Stars and 
Stripes were hauled down from the fort and the " Lone 
Star " flag floated in their place amidst the wild cheers 
and hurrahs of all our " Boys." 

General Twig had surrendered, without a blow for the 



164 AN INDIAN FOftAY 

honour of his flag, eleven hundred troops, three batteries 
of artillery, and about $3,000,000 worth of stores and 
equipment of all sorts. What became of him I know 
not, but rather fancy he would hardly care to report 
himself at the Northern Headquarters. 

After a bit of a spree in the town, to celebrate our 
bloodless, but glorious, victory, we were marched back 
to camp and there dismissed, each one to his own abode. 
Before midnight I was back at our camp on the Medio, 
to Thompson's great surprise, for he had prophesied all 
sorts of evil concerning our enterprise, and in his heart 
never expected to see me alive again. 

Though Texas had not as yet joined the infant Con- 
federacy, she had waged war against the United States, 
and must be prepared for eventualities. Therefore the 
Committee of Safety, shortly after the capture of San 
Antonio, called for mounted riflemen, to volunteer for 
three months' service. 

About the middle of March I joined a company mustered 
in by T. Paul, under a Commission from the Committee. 
We were forty in number, all good men and well armed, 
and reported at Castro ville. 

Paul had, in bygone times, held a commission in the 
Texas Navy, a fleet which I suppose no one in this country 
ever heard of before, but he was an old frontiersman and 
a fighting man, which was the main thing for us. He 
was the only commissioned officer in the company, and 
appointed me at once orderly sergeant. Directly we 
were mustered we went into camp on the Medina River, 
in an old Mormon settlement, where there were several 
solid stone houses and a mill. The Mormons had estab- 
lished themselves on the Medina at the time that the 
main body of their curious co-religionists were settled in 
Nauvoo ; but when the general movement was made 
against that body in the States, these folks, like the rest 
of them, had to trek to Salt Lake. 

Whatever else they are, the Mormons are first-class 



THE MARCH TO VAL VERDE 165 

organisers in a new country, and know how to make 
themselves comfortable. Nothing could be better than 
the spot they had chosen here, and they had made the 
most of it ; and we could not but be grateful to them for 
the excellent shelter the old fellows had provided for us 
against the keen, cold norther blowing. 

That night Paul told us his orders were to march at 
daybreak to Val Verde, forty miles distant, to attack 
that post, which was held by a detachment of U.S. 
cavalry. How many of the enemy he would find he 
didn't know, but thought there were not many more than 
our number. It seemed rather a large order, but the 
" Boys " were in high spirits and eager for a fight. Before 
daybreak our small bugler had roused the camp, and 
by sun-up we had drunk our coffee and were off on our 
long ride. 

Our route lay, for the most part, by bridle-paths along- 
side the Medina River, which ran swift and clear between 
high cedar-clad ridges. We took all proper precautions, 
and had scouts well ahead, whilst every man rode with 
his loaded rifle across the horns of his saddle and his 
six-shooter in his belt ready for use. But perforce we 
had to ride in single file, and a dozen plucky men, properly 
posted in some of the narrow defiles, could easily have 
wiped us out. However, we were not molested, and 
camped that night about two miles from the post. 

We were so confident of capturing the position, where 
we knew there were plenty of stores, that we had travelled 
with but small provision of rations, carried on two or 
three pack-mules ; so my office of issuer of provender 
to forty hungry men was not a very enviable one, for 
my comrades had but scant respect for any officer, and 
none for the orderly sergeant ! 

That night we lay on our arms, and our pickets and 
those of the enemy were almost in touch. It passed 
without any attack on either side, and at daybreak we 
fell in and marched to within a mile of the fort. There 



166 AN INDIAN FORAY 

Paul left his command in charge of the next senior 
sergeant, an old fighting frontiersman, whilst he and I 
rode on to the post, I bearing a white flag. A sergeant's 
guard received us and escorted us inside the fort, outside 
which I saw strong picket-defences had been thrown up, 
and I made sure we were in for a fight. Lieutenant Hill, 
the officer in command, received us very stiffly, and said 
he meant to hold his post to the last. He had really 
received orders to retire, as we afterwards learned, but 
put a bold face on it to gain better terms. 

Paul assured him that though he might hold his post 
against us for a time, reinforcements were coming up 
and evenually he must surrender ; that General Twig, 
commanding the district, had already done so, and that 
therefore fighting would only mean useless waste of life. 
Our crafty friend was deaf to all reason for some time ; but 
when Paul offered to let the officers and men march out 
with their horses, arms, and personal property, which 
was what he had been fighting for, he at once agreed, and 
terms were forthwith settled. Hill was to march out 
next day and report himself, and his command, at San 
Antonio. 

So at two o'clock that day he marched out and we 
took possession of the post, the stores, ammunition, 
twelve mules, eighty camels, and two Egyptian drivers, 
for all of which I had to give a receipt. The camels had 
been purchased in Egypt by the U.S. Government for 
transport across the prairies in the dry season, and 
answered very well. They were very little trouble to us 
as far as the females were concerned (do they call them 
" mares ? " — I don't know), but some of the males were 
the mischief, especially an old gentleman they christened 
" the major." He was evidently possessed by " Shaitan," 
and bit and fought like a demon ; but we chained him 
by the foot to a strong picket-post, and peace reigned 
in the camel-corral. 

For three weeks we remained in these pleasant quarters, 



THE WOMEN MOURN THEIR DEAD 167 

with plenty of good fishing in the Verde Creek, and deer- 
hunting and turkey-shooting in the brush along its 
banks. But camp life, however pleasant, soon grows 
monotonous, so it was a relief to our easy-going but 
rather wearisome existence when one day an express 
rider came in, in hot haste, to summon us once more 
to the warpath ; this time against a marauding band of 
Comanche Indians. It was night when he arrived, and 
though his message was urgent enough, nothing could be 
done till next morning. The Indians had been at their 
usual work of killing the white men and driving off their 
horses, on four ranches in the Guadaloupe district. Paul 
therefore ordered me to detail twenty-five of the best 
mounted men, including myself, and to be ready to start, 
with six days' rations in our malletas, by daybreak. 
How the " Boys " shouted when I gave out the orders ! 
All of course wanted to go, but that was impossible. 

With the first gleam of light we were on the way to 
the Guadaloupe River, where the Comanches had begun 
their fiendish work of massacre and plunder. After 
about four hours' hard riding we reached a rough moun- 
tain farm, which had been the first attacked. Paul and 
I entered the lonely little cabin, and on the floor of the 
living-room lay the corpses of two men, one elderly, and 
the other in the prime of life. Both were scalped, and 
pierced by many lance and arrow wounds. Two women 
knelt by the side of the poor remains in bitter grief, 
the elder one mourning for her husband and her son, the 
younger for her husband. 

The poor old mother told us that the night before the 
last one, her husband and son, hearing a noise in the 
horse-corral, turned out to see what it was, and that 
was the last they had seen of them alive. The terrified 
women heard the noise of galloping horses and the yells 
of Indians, and dare not stir. Why the Comanches did 
not kill them too is strange, for they almost always made 
a clean sweep of men, women, and children in these raids. 



168 AN INDIAN FORAY 

Anyway, however it was, they were spared, and, when 
daylight came, ventured out. They found the corral 
down, the horses gone, and the father and son lying on 
their faces, dead and scalped. The poor creatures had, 
with difficulty, carried their dead indoors, and there, in 
that lonely spot, far from all human help, had watched 
by them, in anguish and in terror, for a day and a night. 
There were of course no coffins, and we could not stay to 
make any, for we must be on the trail of the fiends who 
had done this work as soon as possible. But we offered 
to halt long enough to dig a grave, and they consenting, 
with many tears, we laid the poor fellows to rest under 
the shade of a live-oak hard by the little cabin. Then 
with out expert " trailer " leading, we rode off on the 
broad trail of the spoilers, with wrath and vengeance in 
our hearts. It was a pitiful sight to see those desolate 
and forlorn women left alone by the graves of their 
dead ; but relief we knew was following after us from 
Val Verde, and we had our stern duty to do. 

There were three more ranches swept by the Indians, 
who in these had killed all the white folks, but they were 
some miles off the main trail, and we could not turn aside 
to them ; for we must press on in the hope of catching 
our prey in the open country. In the hilly, rocky 
district at the head of the river, no trailer, however 
expert, could follow Indians ; there they would be safe. 

Indian-hunting, in my experience, is not what one would 
call pleasant sport ; there are so many things you must 
not do. For instance, you musn't stop to kill any game, 
however much you may want meat, for your shot may 
alarm an Indian scout ; you mustn't make a fire in 
the daytime, lest the smoke should give warning to the 
watchful foes ; and then you must press on as fast as you 
can ride on the trail, to have any chance of catching them. 
For these Comanches, as I think I have already said, are 
horse-Indians, and ride active, wiry ponies bare-backed. 
All the provisions they carry is a little jerked beef ; their 



IN A THICK CEDAR-BRAKE 169 

arms are bows and arrows and lances, and, being wholly 
unencumbered with clothing, they get over the ground, 
whether mounted or dismounted, at a surprising rate. 
To catch them without any plunder would be most diffi- 
cult ; but when they have made a big haul, as in this case, 
then is your chance to come up with them — only you 
mustn't lose any time. I may add that the Comanche 
doesn't want to fight, and won't if he can avoid it, unless 
the party following him is a very weak one : he wants 
to get away with his plunder ; but if driven into a corner, 
will fight like a wild cat. 

The trail led up the Guadaloupe, a great part of the 
way over a boulder-strewn, rocky trail, where it was most 
difficult to follow, for the " sign " was almost impercep- 
tible. Sometimes through dense cedar-brakes, clothing 
the spurs of the hills running down to the river, but always 
through most lovely scenery, if one had only had time 
to rest and enjoy it. For four days we rode steadily on, 
never halting except at night, or for the briefest midday 
rest, and the " Boys " all the while keen and eager for 
scalps. The fourth day the " sign " grew plainer, for 
small bands kept coming into the trail, and we judged 
there was a pretty strong bunch of Indians somewhere, 
not very far, ahead of us. 

That night we camped on a bit of open, rolling prairie 
close to the river, and there was great excitement, for we 
believed we were close up to the band. Moreover we had 
now reached the very edge of the brush-covered, rocky 
hills, the fastnesses of the Indians, and if we couldn't 
catch them before they got into them, our labours and 
toils were in vain. 

Our trailer and two scouts went cautiously ahead, when 
night fell, to reconnoitre. They seemed gone for hours ; in 
reality it was less than one. Then they came cautiously 
back and reported they had located the Indians in a thick 
cedar-brake on the top of a steep ridge, and that, from the 
smoke of their fires, there must be a strong party of them. 



170 AN INDIAN FORAY 

Paul ordered the " Boys " to fall in at 2 a.m., so that 
we might attack an hour or so before daybreak. 

It was pitch dark as silently, and in single file, we 
followed our guide through the cedar-brakes over a very 
rough and hilly country. For nearly an hour we crept 
on, and then the whispered word was given, and passed 
down the line, to halt. We were within five hundred 
yards of the camp. Now twenty of the men were dis- 
mounted ; the horses were linked and two men left in 
charge, and whilst Paul led the frontal attack with 
eighteen of the " Boys," I was sent with four mounted 
men to the right flank to cut off any of the Indians 
who tried to bolt across the ravine on that side. 

The young moon just then broke through the heavy 
clouds, and by the faint light we could see Paul and his 
men creeping up the ridge in line. Then we pushed a 
little farther round the flank of the hill, and waited events 
rifle in hand, and with straining eyes peering through 
the dimness of the night. 

Now, as we waited, a single shot was fired, then another ; 
then a volley rang out on the top of the ridge and, like 
greased lightning, the Indians, on foot, went tearing 
through the brush for their lives. Some half-dozen or so 
of them bolted across our ravine a bit ahead of us, and 
two of them we grassed ; but one got up and ran on. They 
seemed to go at a tremendous pace, and in that dim light 
we were lucky to hit any of them. 

Meanwhile Paul, through the hot-headedness of one 
of the " Boys," just missed surprising the camp. He 
and his men had crept nearly to the top of the steep 
ridge, when he who did the mischief thought he saw 
an Indian standing on the edge, peering down, and let 
drive with his Sharp's carbine, and hit a gnarled cedar 
stump ! The next file followed suit, and in a moment 
the Indians were on foot, and bolting in all directions. 
By this time our " Boys " had reached the plateau, and 
poured in a volley after the runaways ; but they were 



THE COMANCHES' PLUNDER 171 

scattered, the brush was thick, and aiming in the darkness 
was impossible, so all they actually bagged was three 
Indians. No doubt others were wounded but were 
carried off by their comrades, who make it a point of 
honour not to lose scalps if they can help it. It was 
no doubt the suddenness of our night-attack that so 
scared the Comanches and made them bolt like that, for 
as a rule they are no cowards. In the darkness, and in 
such a country, it was of course hopeless to follow them 
farther. 

In their camp we found all their lances, bows and 
quivers, and shields, five scalps, various articles such 
as blankets, saddlery and rifles, the plunder of the ranches, 
and fifteen ponies. 

Of the latter they had a great many more with them, 
from the size of the trail, but the rest had bolted, or been 
stampeded by the Indians at the first alarm. By day- 
break we had made packs of the plunder, and, driving 
the ponies before us, started on the back trail to Val 
Verde. 



CHAPTER III 

THE VIGILANCE COMMITTEE'S WORK 

Our horses were a bit done up by the long stern chase 
after the Comanches, and it took us about three days 
to return to the fort. The next day an auction of the 
Indian spoils was held, and I bought four of the ponies 
at $3 ahead ; cheap enough, for they were wiry, useful 
little beasts. 

For ten days we remained quietly at the fort, and then 
it was " boot and saddle " again for me. 

Paul had received orders to send out a scouting party 
to watch the movements of a body of U.S. troops, sup- 
posed to be some hundreds strong, marching from the 
Mexican frontier, possibly to attack San Antonio. They 
had been collected from the border forts and posts ; 
were veteran troops, had two fieldpieces of artillery 
with them, and it was necessary to keep a watchful eye 
on them, for though they might be only retiring from 
untenable positions, they might mean mischief. Twenty 
of our best men then were picked out for this duty, and 
I was sent in command of them. 

So next morning, with four pack-mules to carry our 
supplies, we started with orders to strike the El Paso 
road west of Eagle Pass, a hundred miles distant, then 
get into touch with the U.S. troops and follow them, 
unobserved if possible, till further orders. Our road 
lay across the open prairie, or rather our route did, for 
there was no road ; but my guide knew the country so 
well, and was so good a frontiersman, that he took us to 
our point almost in a bee line. 

172 



THE RETIRING COLUMN 173 

Arrived at the road, I turned up it to the west, sending 
two scouts to keep about a mile ahead of the rest of the 
party. For two days we rode leisurely along, and then 
the scouts reported they had sighted the troops we were 
in search of. At once I moved my party off the road 
about half a mile on to the prairie, and took cover in a 
" mott," or clump, of live-oak to watch the proceedings. 
It was quite a pretty sight too, for there were, as I esti- 
mated, 700 infantry, 2 guns, 8 wagons drawn by six 
mules each, and a number of officers' servants and led 
horses, etc., bringing up the rear of the column. 

The column marched about fifteen miles a day, and we 
followed them on their flank, unseen I believe, for they 
took no notice of us, for fully 250 miles. In reply to a 
message sent into headquarters by an express rider, 
I received orders to continue the scout, but to advise 
Colonel Van Doon, in command at San Antonio, the day 
before the column would reach the San Lucas springs, 
within a few miles of the town. This I did, and then 
rode ahead of the U.S. column and camped near the 
springs to await orders. 

That night I was ordered to move to the Medio close 
to my ranch, to meet Colonel Van Doon early next 
morning. Before doing so I had another good look at 
the troops I had been shadowing so long, and was much 
impressed by their appearance, for they were as fine 
and soldierly looking a body of men as ever I saw. If 
they meant fighting, I was sure they could whip any 
force Van Doon could bring against them, though they 
had but a poor chance of getting out of the State, which 
by that time was up in arms. 

I arrived at the ranch, with my command, in good 
time, and had only just served out a glass of whiskey 
apiece to the " Boys," when a great cloud of dust on the 
San Antonio road heralded the approach of the Colonel 
and his motley crew. He had about two thousand 
infantry volunteers of all sorts and sizes, armed with 



174 THE VIGILANCE COMMITTEE'S WORK 

all kinds of weapons, and about five hundred mounted 
men of more presentable appearance. An " aide " 
now galloped up, and ordered me to move on up the El 
Paso road as an advance guard, about a quarter of a 
mile ahead of the main body. 

When we came in sight of the U.S. troops I was halted, 
and ordered to report myself to the Colonel. He, I 
found, had formed up his infantry in three ranks across 
the road, with his mounted men on each flank, and it 
looked as though he expected a fight. I reported all I 
had been able to learn about the enemy, his ammunition, 
supplies, etc., and that he was drawn up in line on the 
crest of a slight rise, with his artillery in position in the 
centre. I said it looked as though he meant to fight ; 
and if he did — well, he would be a tough nut to crack. 
The old Colonel, who no doubt was more in the secrets 
of the enemy than I was, only smiled, thanked me for 
the way I had carried out my orders, and dismissed me. 

We stood in this formation for quite an hour — a very 
anxious time, I fancy, for the San Antonio volunteers, who 
certainly were not spoiling for a fight, for at least a 
hundred and fifty of them had fallen out on the march. 
Most of them were at that moment being doctored by my 
friend Thompson at his store with whiskey and such 
like medicines, to their comfort and his no small profit. 
At the end of this time a Federal officer, with a sergeant's 
guard, bearing a white flag, appeared, and in five minutes 
the news ran down the ranks that the U.S. troops had 
surrendered. 

It may be thought that the U.S. troops in Texas made 
but a poor show of resistance at the outbreak of the war ; 
but a glance at the map will show that they had no chance 
of getting away to join their friends of the North. The 
distance was too great, and they were too completely 
hemmed in by Southern States, to have any alternative 
but surrender. 

The U.S. troops then were to camp that night on the 



A WATER WIZARD AGAIN 175 

Leon Creek, hard by, and next day march into San 
Antonio and be parolled. Our volunteers were marched 
back to headquarters, but passed our ranch on the Medio, 
where they cleared Thompson out of every eatable and 
drinkable he had, but filled his pockets with coin. Besides 
this, my astute friend did a good stroke of business with 
some of the Federal officers in their camp on the Leon. 
He bethought him that probably they would have some 
property they would rather sell than hand over to the 
authorities in San Antonio ; and he was right, for he 
found them quite ready for a deal, if it could be done 
quietly. The bargains were soon struck, and by one 
o'clock in the morning Thompson was back at the ranch 
with three good ponies, twenty U.S. blankets, and six 
Colt six-shooters, for all of which he paid a mere song. 
I'm afraid it was a very questionable proceeding, on 
both sides, but the Colonel was highly elated with the 
success of his brilliant idea ; the six-shooters especially 
being almost invaluable. 

Meanwhile our three months' service was up, and we 
were ordered back to Val Verde to be paid off and 
mustered out. There, in about a week's time, our 
company was relieved by one of the lately raised Texan 
Frontier Troops, and we received our " certificate of ser- 
vice." Then each man went his way to his own place. 
I afterwards cashed my certificate in San Antonio for $60. 
At the ranch I found Thompson had got everything 
quite shipshape, even to ceilings of " domestic," i.e. 
calico, neatly whitewashed, in the rooms. His store 
looked quite businesslike, and was well stocked with 
goods. Two good cattle-corrals were built, and a well 
dug, about ten yards from the door, in which, at thirty 
feet depth, there was plenty of good water. The spot 
had been chosen by a " water wizard," with his hazel 
twig. Though there can't be anything in the twig, it's 
curious how often these folks strike water first time ; 
witness my " wizard " at Monticello, in Kansas. 



176 THE VIGILANCE COMMITTEE'S WORK 

Thompson had also added to our establishment a 
Mexican vaquero named Caesario, and his " muger," 
or wife ; the latter to act as cook, for though my friend 
was an expert in that line himself, he preferred some 
one else to do the work for him. Everything was in 
good order and the place already looked quite flourishing ; 
but in the midst of his preoccupations the Colonel had 
quite forgotten to look after the cattle, and every one of 
them had made tracks for their old range on the Medina, 
whence they had come. So the day after my return 
I started with two Mexicans and six horses on a 
" cow-hunt." 

The first night we camped in the forks of the San 
Antonio and Medina Rivers, hard by the ancient Catholic 
Mission of San Jose. Long as it had been deserted, 
its walls, of great thickness, stood firm and strong, and 
round it were numerous outbuildings, and houses for the 
peons the good Fathers had employed to tend their 
cattle and cultivate their irrigated lands. 

It was when the Mexicans threw off the hated yoke 
of Spain, early last century, that they despoiled the 
Church of most of her lands. No doubt she had got hold 
of vast tracks of country in Texas, as elsewhere ; but 
these " Missiones," scattered over the wildest districts, 
were centres of civilisation and of industry it was a 
thousand pities to destroy. 

At the time I write of there was scarcely a settlement 
in all that Medina district ; only here and there a small 
Mexican ranch. These Mexicans were good vaqueros, 
but much given to cattle-stealing, and when caught 
flagrante delicto, which wasn't often, or even strongly 
suspected, they were made to " look up " the nearest 
tree ; which being interpreted means hanged, and that 
of course without trial. 

Next morning, starting my boy Antonio to hunt up 
the horses, and Caesario to prepare our simple breakfast, 
I strolled down to the river, as the sun rose in all his 



MIXED BATHING 177 

splendour, to enjoy a bathe in the exquisite coolness and 
freshness of the dawning. On the opposite bank was a 
Mexican " pueblo," and I found all the inhabitants 
thereof of like mind with myself. Men, women, young 
girls, and children — all were disporting themselves in the 
beautiful pool, diving, swimming, splashing each other 
in the bright sunshine ; and not a soul of them wore more 
than nature's garb ! As they were in no way discon- 
certed by my arrival, but greeted me with cheerful 
" Buenos dias, Seiior," I was soon amongst them, 
thoroughly enjoying the fun. I never saw a merrier 
bathing party, or a more innocent one. 

The country I was hunting in was a most difficult one, 
and after four days' hard work I only managed to collect 
about fifty head of my cattle. These I drove back to 
the ranch, and had them herded by day and penned 
at night. Two more drives I made, and got most of the 
stragglers back, but it was hard work ! Meanwhile 
Thompson had bought 150 more from a German who 
was clearing out for Mexico, and these were added to 
the herd, which now began to be a respectable size. 

One night, whilst I fortunately was at home after one 
of these drives, a young fellow I had met before, named 
Dan Ragsdale, put up with us on his way to San Antonio. 
He owned a ranch on the River Frio, about sixty miles 
from San Antonio, in a splendid range for cattle, but 
right in the Indian country ; and what was best from a 
ranching point of view, had no neighbours within miles 
of him. 

He had 2,000 head of cattle, four darkies, and any 
number of horses. The war-fever was strong on him, 
and he was on his way to San Antonio to sell out " lock, 
stock and barrel," and take a commission as captain 
in the Confederate service, which had been promised 
him. 

Though I had never seen his ranch, I had often heard 
of it as the best in all the country round, and when he 

12 



178 THE VIGILANCE COMMITTEE'S WORK 

talked so eagerly of selling I pricked up my ears r Over 
our pipes after supper he offered to sell to us on most 
favourable terms : $1,000 down, $5 a head for the 
cattle we could brand, not counting calves, and three 
years' time to pay for them by instalments. It was 
most tempting, and I confess I was as eager to buy as 
he was to sell ; but we had this Medio ranch and store 
on our hands, and we must get rid of the one before 
we could go in for the other. 

Finally it was arranged that Ragsdale's offer should 
remain open for us for a fortnight, by which time he 
would return for our decision. 

I set out then on my third " cow-hunt," with no 
expectation of being able to take up the Frio ranch. 
But how often it is that the unexpected happens ! I 
had been out nearly a week, and was returning home 
with a good bunch of cattle, when on the Medio Creek 
1 1 stumbled on an ambulance and a wagon; the owner 
whereof, a man named Randall, and his wife, had just 
pitched camp there. They had started from Arkansas 
with all their belongings, intending to trek right across 
the mountains to California ; a sufficiently difficult 
undertaking at any time, but which the disturbed 
state of the country made almost impossible. 

It sounds almost like a coincidence in a novel, but he 
asked me if I knew of any place that would suit him, as 
he had made up his mind to settle in Texas. " Come 
along," I said, " right away, for I've got the very place 
for you within two or three miles of where we are." 

As soon as he and his wife saw our decent comfortable 
house, the store, and all the surroundings, they were very 
pleased, and in a short time we agreed on the terms 
of purchase. He was to pay $1,500 for the ranch, 
store, etc., and $6 a head for all cattle delivered. He 
paid $1,000 deposit, and with his wife and family and 
four darkies took possession of the house, all but one 
room, whilst I set off again to round up the remaining 



"DADDY" GREEN'S DEATH 179 

cattle. This I did, after another week's hard riding, and 
then Ragsdale turned up again. We paid him his $1,000 
down, and I think he was quite as pleased to sell as we 
to buy ; for he had got his commission, and was keen to 
be off to the wars. 

I often saw him when he was encamped with his 
regiment, the 1st Texan Cavalry, at Three-Mile Creek 
near San Antonio, for the Colonel, commonly called 
" Daddy " Green, and many of the officers were well 
known to me. " Daddy " Green was a very fine specimen 
of the Southern planter, and in former days had seen 
much service against the Mexicans and Indians. Never 
was commander, I believe, more beloved than he by 
" his boys." He led them most gallantly in many a 
tough fight, and with him it was never " go," but 
" come." 

Near the close of the war he, with his brigade of Texan 
Cavalry, " whipped " " Commissary " Banks, otherwise 
General Banks of the Federal Army, in a most gallant 
fight on the Red River. The dear old boy led his brigade 
against the Federal infantry strongly posted, with guns 
on either flank. It was against all the rules of war I 
suppose, but nothing could stop his boys, with " Daddy " 
in front of them, and they took the position and the 
guns, though with heavy loss ; the heaviest and most 
grievous of all being that of the dear old General, who 
was literally cut in two by a round shot in the moment 
of victory. His boys just rode over those Federals, 
and it was said that there was no such deed done in all 
the war. 

As to poor Ragsdale, he served for some two years, 
attained the rank of major, and then was killed in 
Louisiana, pluckily leading his squadron in a gallant 
charge. 

But all this is a digression, though I must repeat the 
offence to give an instance of the villainous doings of 
the Vigilance Committee. 



180 THE VIGILANCE COMMITTEE'S WORK 

The evening I returned from my first " cow-hunt," I 
was sitting on the " gallery," resting and enjoying the 
lovely evening, when a two-horse ambulance, with five 
men in it, drove up. A man named John Atkins I had 
met before, and two others got down, shook hands, and 
asked for drinks of whiskey. As the other two remained 
in the ambulance, I saw there was something up, and 
asked Atkins what it was. He said they had had a rare 

hunt after a d d horse-thief ; had found him at 

last at Fort Clark, where he had enlisted for a year's 
service, putting his (Atkins's) horse in as his mount. 
They had recovered the horse, which was tied behind 
the ambulance, and they were taking the thief into 
San Antonio. 

But his manner as he said this aroused my suspicions ; 
besides, I knew him as a prominent member of the dreaded 
Vigilance Committee, so I said, " I hope you are not going 
to hang the poor wretch before you get there." " You've 
hit it, my boy, first shot," he answered with a laugh ; 
" you get your horse, and come along to see the finish. 
You bet we sha'n't take him much farther now." 

Now one of the two still in the ambulance left it, 
and came to the house ; but the prisoner sat quietly 
on, and apparently unconcerned. No suspicion of the 
near-impending fate that awaited him seemed to have 
dawned upon him. The human ghouls who had brought 
him along more than 250 miles had played cards with 
him at each camp, and now were going to murder him 
in cold blood ! It made my blood boil, and Mr. John 
Atkins never guessed how near he was to getting a 
bullet through his heart. But if I could have killed 
all four of these bloodthirsty wretches, and rescued their 
prisoner, I should have had to flee the country, or their 
fellow-murderers of the committee would surely have 
hanged me. 

I mastered my wrath then, as best I could, and used 
every argument I could think of to induce Atkins at 



THE HANGING OF YOUNG 181 

least to let his captive have his chance of trial in the 
town. In vain ; neither argument nor entreaty could 
move him. I had said as much as I dared, and more 
than was good for my own security, and could do no 
more. So, sad and sick at heart, I walked over to the 
ambulance to speak to the poor young fellow ; he was 
not more than twenty-five, and a well-dressed, good- 
looking fellow. Directly I spoke, he said, " Why, I met 
you in Kansas, when you were a lieutenant in Miller's 
company, and I was in Dunn's." I couldn't recollect 
him, even when he told me his name was Jack Young. 
He declared he was innocent of the charge, for he had 
bought the horse from a Mexican, on the Medina, and 
was confident of being able to produce him at his trial. 
His trial, poor fellow ! How little he knew ! I couldn't 
tell him of the terrible fate awaiting him, and it was 
best not. It could only prolong his agony. 

But I would try once more what persuasion would 
effect with his captors. I might have spared my breath, 
for they were as hard as the nether millstone. The 
sun was setting, and the murderers were anxious to start, 
that they might finish their evil deed before darkness 
overtook them. 

The victim asked for whiskey, which I had forgotten to 
offer him, so I brought him a tumbler. He shook me 
by the hand, hoping to meet me again soon ; and I knew 
I should never see him alive any more. So they drove 
off, the prisoner cheery and unconcerned, his escort 
laughing and chatting with him, as though they were all 
the best of friends. In less than half an hour the brutes 
would hang him ! I watched them, in the crimson 
glow of the setting sun, until they disappeared round 
a " mott " on the prairie, and then, with a feeling of 
utter helplessness, turned back to the house. 

That night I scarcely slept, and at daybreak was on 
horseback, following the trail of the ambulance ; drawn, 
as it were, by some irresistible attraction ; feeling sure 



182 THE VIGILANCE COMMITTEE'S WORK 

at one moment of what I should find, and the next 
hoping the murderers might have relented. Thus hoping, 
fearing, I rode on for about three miles, and then saw 
what I really expected : Jack Young hanging from 
a China-tree hard by the trail ! 

In hot haste I rode on into San Antonio and reported 
to the City Marshal what I had seen. The deed was 
recognised as the handiwork of the all-powerful Vigilance 
Committee, and no one dared to interfere with its dread 
decrees. Only some Mexicans were sent out by the 
city authorities to cut down the victim and bury him 
on the spot where he died. And so an end, as far as 
this world's justice is concerned. I have, alas ! seen 
many die by Lynch Law, but never so cold-blooded a 
deed as this one. 



CHAPTER IV 

a rancher's paradise 

Having agreed terms with Ragsdale for his ranch, and 
paid our deposit, all we had to do now was to ride into 
San Antonio, see his lawyers, and put matters in proper 
legal train. This we did in a very few hours, and became 
duly " seized " (I think that is the legal phrase) of the 
coveted Frio ranch. 

I must say they do these things better in the States 
than we do here. Why, it is easier, and less costly, to 
transfer the ownership of a great estate, that may be 
worth millions, over there, than one tumbledown old 
cottage here ! 

That fixed up, I engaged an old frontier Mexican, Juan 
Garcia by name, to go out to the Frio with me, and ride 
round the home range. Juan was well known to me 
as a first-rate vaquero, and though he had never been 
actually on the new ranch, knew its whereabouts, and 
the lay of the surrounding country. I have no idea 
how old he was, nor do I think had he himself ; any 
way, he looked like a dried-up mummy, a little bleached 
by long exposure to the sun. On foot he looked old, 
and decrepit almost ; but put him on a horse, however 
wild and unbroken, and he seemed transformed. He 
could ride all day, and every day, and after the longest 
" cow-hunt " seemed as fresh as paint. He was a good 
shot with rifle or six-shooter, and furthermore — a great 
consideration in view of where we were going — wasn't 
afraid of Indians. 

His costume, like that of all his kind, consisted of 

183 



184 A RANCHER'S PARADISE 

buckskin pants, nearly as ancient as himself, gaiters 
much adorned, Mexican fashion, with tassels and laces, 
and long mocassins, to which were affixed a huge pair 
of silver spurs, the pride of his heart. The upper part 
of him was clad in a short jacket, or jumper, of canvas, 
which displayed much brown skin between itself and the 
buckskins, and on his head he had a huge sombrero, 
under which the old fellow looked like a vast mushroom 
on a short stalk. 

Juan and I then started on our somewhat perilous 
journey, armed with rifles and six-shooters, and carry- 
ing for provisions, in our malletas, coffee, dried beef, 
and hard bread. Our shortest route lay across the 
prairie to a ford on the Medina River, but we neither of 
us knew the exact position of the ranch, so had to pass 
through Castroville and take a very dim trail to the 
San Francisco Creek, about twelve miles. 

The crossing of the San Francisco had an evil repute ; 
for about a month before the Lepan Indians had sur- 
prised a small party of cow-hunters there, killing one 
and wounding another, the latter a man named Lemmons, 
who afterwards did a lot of cattle-driving for me. How- 
ever, we got over the creek all right, and there before 
us lay the open, boundless prairie with never a sign of a 
trail on it. 

Juan said our direction, he thought, was about west, 
so for that point we steered by the sun, riding over fine 
rolling prairie, dotted here and there with great live-oaks, 
and in the bottoms, dense white chaparral. Not a living 
being, nor any sign of settlement, did we see all that 
day ; only now and then a few stray cattle, and plenty 
of deer and peccary, which we dared not shoot for fear 
of betraying our presence to the watchful Indians. 

That night we camped on the Seco Creek, by Juan's 
reckoning, about fifteen miles from the Frio, and after 
dark made a small fire to boil our coffee and heat up our 
dried £>eef, This done, we put it out, lest the smoke 



ON THE OPEN PRAIRIE 185 

should be seen, lariatted our horses to prevent their 
straying, smoked one pipe, and then laid down on our 
blankets, with our saddles for pillows and our arms by 
our sides, frontier fashion. The moon was high, and 
the night full of light. Very beautiful to look on in its 
vastness and its stillness, and I lay for a short time con- 
templating the wondrous scene, and thinking of the past, 
and of the uncertain future before me ; also I confess 
wondering if there were any Indians about, and how a 
scalping-knife would feel. But not for long ; for soon 
the soft cries of the whip-poor-wills, the distant howls of 
the coyotes, and the grumbling of the bull-frogs in the 
creek sent me into a dreamless sleep, till Juan roused 
me as the first glimmer of light showed on the eastern 
horizon. That worthy declared he had slept with one 
eye open^ but I rather doubt it. Indians or no Indians 
we were bound to make a fire, for a pint of good coffee 
is almost worth risking your life for. We drank this, 
perhaps enjoying it the more for the risk we ran, ate a 
bit of dried beef, slightly broiled on the embers, and set 
off due west again, still seeing no trail, though we had 
expected to strike one of Ragsdale's before this. I found 
afterwards that the reason was that he never used the 
same trail twice, either in riding or sending a wagon, 
into San Antonio. A wise precaution in an Indian 
country like that. 

However, we soon began to strike big cattle-trails, 
all leading in one direction, which we were sure must be 
the Frio, and followed them at a smart " lope." Pre- 
sently all doubts were at an end when we struck a number 
of cattle, all with the I.X.L. brand, which I had bought 
from Ragsdale. I was delighted with what I had seen 
so far, and recognised that I had struck the finest cattle- 
range I had ever laid eyes on. Miles and miles of clean 
mesquite grass extended on all sides, and all the cattle 
fattening on this pasture were in splendid condition. 

The cattle and deer trails soon led us to dense chap- 



186 A RANCHER'S PARADISE 

arral of " cat-claw " mesquite and prickly pear, with 
wide cattle-roads through it. Here and there this would 
open out into hollows, or cafiadas, perhaps a hundred 
yards wide, with lagoons in them, round which grew 
beautiful grass, clear of brush, but dotted about with 
live-oaks, palmetto, and mesquite-trees. This chaparral, 
I found afterwards, extended back from the river about 
four miles, and along its length for about thirty miles : 
a very home and paradise for game of all sorts. 

As we rode along that morning, troops of turkeys would 
rush across the trail ; deer would jump up, almost under 
our horses' feet, and bunches of " javalines," or peccary, 
bolt from their wallows on the margins of the water-holes 
into the brush with angry grunts and fierce snapping of 
their tusks. Signs, too, were not wanting of mustangs 
coming down to drink, and as old Juan, whose regular 
calling was mustanging, rode behind me, I could hear 
him muttering to himself, with much satisfaction, " Que 
buena, que chula " ; which, freely translated, means 
" what a beautiful place ! " 

Coming to the river itself, we found the banks of loamy 
clay about seventy feet high, with many cattle and bridle 
tracks leading down to its boulder-strewn bed, and on the 
opposite side, hard by the bank, were the ranch buildings 
plainly to be seen. Where we had struck the Frio it 
was easily fordable, but above and below that point it 
spread out into lakes of clear, blue, cool water, full of 
fish and abounding in alligators and " alligator gar." 
Indeed the river, for nearly the whole of its course, is a 
succession of these lakes or " water-holes," as they are 
called in Western parlance. 

My lot, I saw, " had fallen on a goodly heritage " when 
I bought this Frio ranch. But there were two drawbacks 
to my enjoyment of its advantages : the first, over which 
I had no control, the Indians ; the second, my own per- 
verse desire to mix myself up in the great War of the 
Secession, — the last being more fatal to my prospects of 



ON THE FRIO 187 

success than the first. If I had only stuck to my own 
business of cattle-raising, for, say, ten years, I have no 
doubt I should have been the fortunate owner of the 
finest range and the biggest stock of beeves in all Texas. 
However, it was not to be ; and regrets are useless, or 
worse. 

Climbing up the western bank of the river, whose 
margin was lined with mulberry-trees and live-oaks, 
entwined with " mustang " grape-vines to their very 
summits, we found ourselves outside the high mesquite 
picket-fence surrounding the ranch. Our approach was 
greeted in so vociferous and threatening a manner by 
about a dozen hounds and " Arkansas curs," that I 
thought it wisest not to dismount before some one came 
out to quell the riot. Long and loudly I shouted, and 
after some minutes an ancient darky cautiously peeped 
out of the door and, having carefully reconnoitred us, 
came forth. The poor old fellow was overjoyed when 
I explained who I was, for he and his old woman had 
been left in charge by Ragsdale with only the dogs to 
protect them from the Indians, and so terrified were they 
that they had slept in the chaparral every night. 

Aunt Martha, his wife, fixed us up some corn-bread 
and venison, with a good brew of coffee, and whilst this 
was preparing I took a look round my new homestead. 
The house was of hewn logs, with two rooms, one above 
and one below ; the former reached by a broad stair- 
ladder outside. At the back a log kitchen with dirt floor, 
and alongside it six " acaldes," or Mexican picket-houses, 
for the hands. Behind them again, good log " smoke- 
houses " and fowl-houses ; the whole surrounded by a 
strong picket-fence enclosing about half an acre of ground 
dotted about with beautiful trees. The house had a 
rough gallery round it, a pleasant shady place to sit out 
on ; but it was wholly innocent of glass, the windows 
being only closed by shutters. 

Outside the fence were the cattle, calf and horse, 



188 A RANCHER'S PARADISE 

corrals, all well fenced with high, strong picket-posts, 
and the former was capable of holding 2,000 cattle. 
With the ranch went the freehold of a square league of 
land, or 1,920 acres ; whilst all the splendid grazing 
ground for miles round was practically, for the time 
being at least, as much my own as if I had bought 
and paid for it. 

To the west of the ranch, which stood on a knoll, there 
was an extensive view over the gently undulating prairie, 
covered with the richest of grass, and sprinkled with 
fine timber which gave it a park-like appearance. Could 
heart of cattle-rancher desire anything better, anything 
more perfect for his business ? The amari aliquid 
was the Indians, and there was no doubt one would have 
to keep a wary eye on them to retain one's scalp intact. 

The Comanches knew the range well, and the Lepans 
considered it their special property. Only the previous 
spring the former had swept this very district, killing 
fifty men, women and children, and getting safely away 
with a big drove of horses. But " what can't be cured 
must be endured," and these Indians were certainly 
incurable, and, as Artemus Ward said, " pison wherever 
met." It was only the steady march of civilisation that 
could rid the country of them, and that has done its 
work long years ago now. 

After breakfast, and having rested and fed our horses, 
we started out to ride down the west side of the Frio, 
about twenty-five miles to the junction with the Nueces 
River. I had seen a good deal of " frontier " in Missouri 
and in Kansas, having ridden over nearly the whole of 
the latter, but a wilder country than this I had never 
beheld. Not a human being, nor sign of one, did we see, 
but plenty of bunches of I.X.L. cattle, in wonderful 
condition and as wild as bucks. Deer, and peccary too, 
were in abundance, and towards sundown, as we neared 
the forks of the Nueces, a great drove of mustangs, 
perhaps one hundred and fifty strong, passed ahead of 



A PIECE OF GOOD LUCK 189 

us at a gallop, making for their watering-place on the 
river. Old Juan was frantic with excitement, and I 
could hardly restrain him from galloping after them, 
by telling him he should come, by and by, and rope as 
many as he liked. 

That night we camped on a water-hole of the Frio, 
under a grove of splendid " peccan " trees. Seated 
under one of these, watching Juan getting ready our 
supper, a piece of good luck befell us ; for along the 
deer-trail, a few steps from me, came a troop of turkeys, 
strutting leisurely to water. At the head of his harem 
marched a stately gobbler, unconscious of aught but his 
own dignity and grandeur. Though it was a risky thing 
to shoot in a place like that, the old fellow was too 
tempting to resist, and I knocked him over with a 
shot from my six-shooter. 

Juan had him plucked in double-quick time, gave him 
a coat of clay, scooped out a hole, and baked him therein 
on the wood ashes. No chef or professor of the culinary 
art can, with all his appliances, produce a dish to beat 
this. Be it deer-meat or turkey, or any other meat, no 
way of cooking it equals this ; but perhaps a beef's 
head treated in this fashion is the supremest dish of all. 
It makes one hungry, even now, to think of it. 

Next day we rode back up the east side of the Frio, 
seeing many cattle, and plenty of unbranded calves, 
which showed that Ragsdale, since the war-fever had 
attacked him, had let his stock go ; all the better for us 
perhaps. At the ranch we stopped for an hour, stripped 
the horses, and fed them, whilst we breakfasted. Then 
off again, and rode ten miles or so up the west side of the 
river, seeing more cattle, and a pack of " lobos " — large 
wolves, not to be confounded with the small prairie 
variety, or coyotes. Here we saw very fresh Indian sign, 
which showed that a considerable band had struck the 
river at this point and turned up it, travelling north. 

Having no desire to run into these gentry, and being 



190 A RANCHER'S PARADISE 

moreover more than satisfied with what I had seen of the 
range, which indeed was unsurpassed and unsurpassable, 
we crossed the Frio and struck across the prairie for the 
Seco Creek, en route for the Medio. The Indians being 
so near, we made no fire in our camp that night, and 
went coffeeless to sleep, but saw nothing more of the 
Comanches, or their sign. 

Next morning we were in the saddle before sun-up, 
and reached Castroville in safety that afternoon. The 
little town was in great excitement, for the Indians were 
on the warpath again, and had killed a German settler 
in the Atacosa country, about twenty miles south of the 
Medio, and the other side of the Medina River. 

My old friend Paul, with whom I had served before, 
was getting up a command to follow them, and nothing 
would do but I must go with him. Tired as I was, I 
couldn't say no, under the circumstances ; for men were 
scarce on the frontier, and his command, so far, consisted 
of only fifteen young Germans, none of whom knew any- 
thing of Indian fighting. So I agreed to join the scout 
at noon the following day, at a small ranch south of the 
Medina, and bring one or two more with me if possible. 

In the meantime I was bound to return home to get a 
fresh horse ; for the one I was riding was about done up, 
and it was all I could do to get him to the ranch, quite 
late that night. Thompson was really glad to see me 
turn up, for he had begun to think the Comanches had 
got me, and of course was delighted with my report of 
the Frio ranch. 

He had heard that the Indians were out across the 
Medina, but no particulars of their doings ; however when 
I told him I was going to join Paul's scout next day, he at 
once said he would go too. " I have nothing to do with 
fighting the Yankees," he said, " but this Indian business 
is different, and if I'm going to live on this frontier, I 
must do my part like the rest of you." The good old 
fellow seemed delighted to go, and as "his soul was in 



INDIAN TORTURES 191 

arms and eager for the fray," I was very pleased to have 
him with me, especially as there was no one else I could 
enlist. 

He saw to everything for me ; got the horses, arms, 
and provisions ready for the morrow, whilst I threw 
myself on the bed, just as I was, and slept like a rock 
till the Mexicans called me before daybreak. Then, after 
a swim in the cool water of the creek, and a hasty break- 
fast, we set off for our twenty-mile ride across the prairie ; 
the Colonel in the highest spirits at the prospect of this 
his first brush with the Comanches, and I as fresh as 
paint again. We reached the rendezvous a good hour 
before the rest of the command, and, for my part, I was 
glad to get to the end of the journey ; for there were too 
many Indians about in the neighbourhood, and we two 
might have been jumped on by a big bunch of the brutes 
at any moment. 

At the ranch we learned that the Comanches had killed 
two more settlers, one of whom had been scalped, after 
being tortured to death with lance-thrusts. The " sign " 
showed plainly enough the diabolical ingenuity of the 
wretches, for it was as easy to read as a book. 

They had roped him, and driven him round in a circle, 
prodding him the while with lances, till he had died, 
literally covered with wounds. They had also, which 
was very unusual, attacked a big ranch, but had been 
beaten off by the owners, who were well armed. More- 
over they had got together a big drove of horses, and 
had killed a great many cattle, and were much bolder 
and more careless than usual, knowing just as well as 
we did that the frontier was no longer protected by 
U.S. troops, and that our best young " braves " had 
gone to the war. Indeed at that time we suffered 
terribly from Indian raids, owing to these causes, and no 
outlying ranch was safe from attack, so that very many 
were abandoned by their owners. 

When the command appeared, and I had had a look 



192 A RANCHER'S PARADISE 

round, I can't say I was much impressed by the appear- 
ance of the men. They were well mounted and armed, 
but I couldn't feel very sanguine as to the result if we 
did come up with the enemy ; for except Paul, Demp. 
Forrest and myself, none were real frontiersmen, or used 
to this kind of work. However they all seemed very 
keen, and so after a short halt we set off, nineteen in 
number, on a trail the most inexperienced could follow, 
it was so wide and plain. At dusk we struck the Co- 
manche camp of the previous night, and all next day 
followed it as fast as we dared go. We were evidently 
overhauling the Indians, who were hampered and delayed 
by the big bunch of horses they were driving, and I felt 
sure we should catch them, and have a fight. The trail 
was now heading for the Presidio crossing of the Rio 
Grande, and the only fear was lest they might get over 
into Mexican territory before we came up with them, for 
there they would be safe from pursuit. 

The third day we pressed on as fast as our tired horses 
could go, with Demp. Forrest the trailer and two scouts 
well ahead ; the rest riding two and two, with Paul and 
myself leading the van. The excitement was intense, 
for now the Rio Grande was not so very far ahead. 
Would the devilish murderers escape us after our hard 
ride ? Even the rawest German trader was keen for 
blood now, and my friend was quite wild ! I could 
scarce realise that it was the same placid, good-natured 
old Thompson ; but I suppose it was the tale of the poor 
young German's awful death that had roused the fight 
latent in him. 

About midday Demp. came riding back, at full gallop, 
to report that he had located the band, camped in a 
brushy Canada, about three miles from the crossing, and 
that all seemed busy cooking and eating. Round their 
camp he had seen a big lot of the stolen horses, perhaps 
two or three hundred in number. There was plenty of 
brush for covert, near the Canada, and, as the Comanches 



THE COMANCHE "V" 193 

seemed careless and off their guard, he thought w& 
might possibly surprise them if we hurried up. 

Rifles, six-shooters, and cartridge-belts were carefully 
examined, and off we set at a lope, Paul leading, and I 
bringing up the rear of the column to prevent straggling. 
I confess I felt rather anxious as to how our raw recruits 
would behave. An Indian yell, before the brutes charge, 
is not a pleasant sound to hear for the first time, and I 
wasn't sure how my young friends' nerves would stand 
it. If any of them gave way, we should have the Co- 
manches charge into us to a certainty ; and they out- 
numbered us by more than three to one. Most of them, 
I was glad to see, seemed still keen enough, though one 
or two, I fancied, had cooled down a bit in their ardour, 
and these I resolved to keep close by me when the pinch 
came. 

Now, as we pressed on over the rolling prairie and 
between the thick standing clumps of nopal, our scouts 
came back and reported there was no hope of a surprise, 
for the Indians had left their camp and, having mounted, 
had taken up a position on a " lomo," or ridge, hard by, 
where they evidently meant to fight. No men fight 
harder than these Comanches when driven into a corner, 
but here their retreat over the river was secure ; so it 
was doubtful whether they would make a big fight to 
save their plunder, or bolt to save their own skins. 

Paul formed his little troop in line to the front, and, 
advancing to about eighty yards from the ridge, dis- 
mounted his men ; the horses' reins were thrown over 
the men's left arms, and orders given to reserve fire till 
Paul gave the signal. Then every man to mount in 
double-quick time and have at the Indians, six-shooters 
in hand. 

Hardly were we ready when the Comanches came on, 
in V formation, at a good hand canter down the hill, 
between sixty and seventy in number and yelling like 
demons^ They had let drive their arrows, and a young 

13 



194 A RANCHER'S PARADISE 

fellow named Petersen got two of them, one in his shoulder 
and the other in his thigh. It was a nervous moment, 
though Petersen was the only man hit ; but the fellows 
stood steady, even those I had thought doubtful, gripping 
their rifles and waiting for the word. 

" Fire, boys ! " shouted Paul, and at about fifty or 
sixty yards' distance we poured in our volley. Six 
Indians dropped, and others we could see were wounded, 
perhaps a dozen of them, but they stuck to their ponies. 
It was too hot for them to stand, and the formation 
broke at once, and wheeled about in full retreat up the 
slope. It seemed only a moment before we were mounted, 
but even as we started in pursuit the active Indian ponies 
had topped the ridge and disappeared. Helter-skelter 
they went for the crossing, only half a mile away, and 
before we could catch up with them were over in Mexican 
territory, where they knew our boys wouldn't follow 
them. 

We had done pretty well, considering the composition 
of the command ; but of course could have cut up pretty 
well the whole of the band if we had had enough men to 
divide, and secure the crossing. We gathered about two 
hundred horses, after a good deal of trouble ; so the 
Comanches didn't get away with many. 

Well pleased with the success we had met with, we 
camped on the field of battle, and feasted right royally 
on a fat yearling the enemy had left behind. 

Poor Petersen was badly hurt ; but the arrow-heads 
were cut out and the wounds dressed as well as might be, 
and we got him back to Castroville, where he eventually 
recovered. 

All, as I have said, were well pleased ; but none more 
so than old Thompson, who vowed he had grassed one 
buck and, if he knew it, would never miss another Indian 
hunt. 



CHAPTER V 

ASA MINSHUL, PREACHER 

When we returned to Castroville, after the Indian fight 
on the Rio Grande, the German inhabitants (we always 
called them " Dutch," though I don't know why) gave 
us quite an ovation, and feasted the whole party with 
their best. 

A list was made of all the brands on the captured 
horses, and a notice stuck up that the owners could 
reclaim them on payment of a small fee. Those not 
claimed within a fortnight were, with the Indian trophies, 
sold at public auction. 

Randall, who had bought our ranch, was not ready to 
pay the balance due, so we did not hand over possession. 
I filled up the time of waiting by hunting cattle, and, 
after another three weeks' hard riding, collected another 
twenty-five of our brand, which made up our number in 
the corrals to five hundred. 

Being a member of the K.G.C., and having voted for 
Jeff Davis for President and served three months under 
the Committee of Safety, I was pretty well known in San 
Antonio as " sound on the goose," which meant a good 
Southern man, and at this time was a good deal in the 
town and in the camps of instruction. In the latter I 
met General Wasp in command, General Sibley, Colonel 
Green, and many others, with whom I became very 
friendly. At this time the war-fever ran very high in 
Texas, and throughout the South. The battle of Bull 
Run had been fought and won, and every one was sanguine 
of victory. It was, with all of us, only a question of how 

195 



196 ASA MINSHUL, PREACHER 

long it would take us to whip the Yankees, and what we 
should do with them when that was accomplished ; we 
were indeed proceeding "to dispose of the lion's skin before 
we had slain him ! For myself, I was just as sanguine 
and as excited as the rest, and never dreamed the South 
could be beaten. It was the common opinion that the 
war would not last more than six months, or at the 
outside a year ; and that, if England and France would 
acknowledge our independence, it would be over directly. 
It is easy enough to laugh at our shortsightedness and 
vanity now, and the proud Southerners paid a heavy 
enough penalty for it too ; how heavy, in the downfall 
of their pride and the ruin that overtook them, no one 
can realise who was not an eye-witness of the debacle 
in 1865. 

Now, in this summer of 1861, I was almost carried off 
my feet by the prevailing excitement ; and when General 
Wasp offered me a captain's commission in the Partizan 
Rangers, these being raised for service in Tennessee, it 
was hard to resist the temptation. But I had this Frio 
ranch on my hands and Thompson to look after and 
consider, so I had to decline with many thanks, though 
I told the General, if the war lasted, I should serve, if 
only in the ranks. I may say I was as good as my 
word, for I did serve eventually, and under General 
Wasp too, who, though an old West Point man, was not 
a brilliant commander. 

About the time I am writing of, I happened to be in 
San Antonio staying with some friends, and was a witness 
of a deed perpetrated by the Vigilance Committee that 
almost surpasses in cool villainy any of its doings. 

It was a lovely evening, and many people were stroll- 
ing about the Plaza, whilst under the shade of the trees 
surrounding it, numbers of Mexicans were seated at tables 
playing their great gambling game of " Monte." A 
young Ranger from the camp of instruction, with perhaps 
too much aguadiente in him, appeared and began jumping 



A DRUNKEN SPREE 197 

over the tables, some of which he capsized. Five or 
six of the city marshals ran up, and after a big fight 
arrested him and carried him off to jail. A simple 
drunken row, common enough in those days, of which 
one took no notice ; but it was to have a tragic enough 
ending for the unfortunate young Ranger. 

Next morning, at about ten o'clock, I walked over to 
the Court House with my host, Mr. Sweets, the Mayor 
of San Antonio, and we were both much surprised to see 
a crowd of several hundreds in the Plaza fronting the 
court and jail. 

I sat by Sweets' side whilst he disposed of several 
trifling cases, amongst others that of the Ranger, who 
was charged with creating a disturbance. His case was 
dismissed with a caution, and the next one called on. 
But the young fellow, a smart-looking, soldierly man, 
though acquitted, seemed in no hurry to regain his 
freedom, but, on the contrary, begged the Mayor to 
keep him in custody. He gave no reason for his strange 
request, though no doubt he had a strong suspicion of 
what awaited him outside. The Mayor said he had no 
power to detain him, and he must go. 

I remembered the crowd we had seen, and stepped to 
the door to see what was going on. There was nothing 
much in its demeanour to attract attention, but it had 
gathered thickly round the door, as though patiently 
waiting for something, or somebody, and at the back 
I saw two well-known members of the dread committee. 
Hastening back to Sweets I told him I didn't like the 
look of the crowd, and thought there was mischief afoot. 
I don't know whether he heard me, for just then the 
Ranger was asking, more earnestly than before, to be 
detained in custody. Anyway, his answer to the request 
was short and sharp. 

" Nonsense, my lad, you have been acquitted ; I have 
no power to keep you, and you must go." The Ranger 
said never another word, but, with a shrug of his 



198 ASA MINSHUL, PREACHER 

shoulders, turned on his heel and marched out to his 
doom. 

The moment he stepped outside, the human wolves, 
waiting for their prey, set on him, dragged him across 
the Plaza, put a rope round his neck, and strung him 
up to a tree in less time than it takes to relate. I saw it 
all, but of course was absolutely powerless to help. I 
however went off, as fast as my horse could carry me, 
to the camp to tell the tale to the victim's comrades, in 
the hope that they would avenge his murder. Quickly 
they ran to get their arms, but the General fell in two 
regiments of infantry and marched them into the town 
to keep order, or I verily believe the villainous committee 
would have had to mourn the loss of some of its leading 
members that day. They were well known to every one 
in the town and neighbourhood, but the excitement 
died down, nothing was done to them, and their evil 
power remained unshaken. 

The young fellow's drunken escapade had of course 
nothing to do with his hanging ; it only gave his enemies 
the opportunity of catching him away from his comrades. 
It seems that two years before, the Vigilance Committee 
had hanged a brother of his on some pretext or other, 
and the Ranger, who had only recently arrived in San 
Antonio, had openly threatened that he would shoot 
Asa Minshul and Solomon Chiswell, the leaders who 
had murdered the brother. These rascals therefore, to 
save their own skins, had organised the hanging I had 
witnessed. 

It made one's blood boil to think that these cowardly 
villains could terrorise a whole State like this, and murder 
with impunity any one against whom they had a spite. 
They took no part in the war, and never one of them 
fired a shot for their country and its cause, about which 
they talked so loudly, but stayed at home, and ruled 
those who did the fighting by their terrible secret power. 

The ramifications of this secret society, which in its 



A TEXAN MAFIA 199 

constitution was something like the Italian Mafia, of evil 
notoriety, were very wide, but though the leaders were 
perfectly well known, the rank and file, who obeyed their 
behests without question or hesitation, were difficult 
to identify. Some of course were known and shunned, 
as much as those outside the organisation dared to ; but 
the terrible part of the thing was that one never knew 
whether the man you met on pleasure, or on business, 
or in whose house you stayed on terms of friendship, 
might not be a member, and denounce you. A terrible 
state of society, truly ; but no private organisation could 
hope to cope with it, and in those disturbed times public 
law and order were in abeyance. 

The head of the committee, and the man who pulled 
the strings, was Asa Minshul, a well-to-do merchant 
and store-keeper in San Antonio. When I first met him 
he was about fifty years of age ; short, stout, and florid, 
he looked what he was, a prosperous tradesman. More- 
over he was a shining light amongst the Wesley ans, in 
whose church he often preached and prayed with much 
unction. I have often been in his house, which was about 
the best in the town, and in which his two daughters, who 
were well educated and musical, gave very pleasant parties. 

Now, as soon as I found what terrible power this man 
wielded, and how necessary it was for one's good health 
to be friendly with him, I confess with some shame that 
I cultivated his acquaintance. The old ruffian was no 
doubt fond of his two girls, and with them I struck up 
quite a friendship— not entirely disinterested perhaps, 
though they were pleasant enough ; also, at times, I 
attended his ministrations in the Wesley an church, and 
listened to the confounded old hypocrite's long-winded 
discourses, with what patience I might. All this was 
somewhat ignoble no doubt, and not a thing to boast 
of ; but there was always that rope that the old fellow 
was said to carry in the tall white hat he invariably 
wore, and one would do a good deal to keep it from off 



200 ASA MINSHUL, PREACHER 

one's neck. Talking of that rope, there was a good 
story current in San Antonio, though I can't vouch for 
its truth, as I was not present at the scene ; at any rate, 
if not true, it was " well invented." 

The old rascal was preaching one hot Sunday afternoon 
in the Wesleyan church to a crowded congregation, and 
by his side on the pulpit-platform he placed his hat. As 
he vehemently denounced sinners, and urged to righteous- 
ness his listening flock, the perspiration trickled down 
his forehead so fast that he paused, and stooped down 
for his handkerchief, lying in his hat. But, in his excite- 
ment, he quite forgot what else his hat contained, and 
hurriedly seizing the handkerchief, drew out with it a 
coil of rope ! 

Randall being still behind in his payment, the Medio 
ranch couldn't be handed over, and I couldn't take up 
my abode on the Frio. So, as it was necessary to have 
some one in charge, I hired a Mexican and his wife to 
look after the place. Then I got old Juan to find 
three other vaqueros, besides himself, to help me drive 
and brand on the range. So this trip we were quite a 
party ; the man and his wife travelling in my wagon, 
and the other four Mexicans and myself mounted. 

Never I think were human beings more delighted to 
see me than the two poor old darkies at the ranch, for 
they had made up their minds that they had been 
abandoned as a prey to the Indians. 

We hunted, for about a week, up and down the Frio, 
and in the forks of the Nueces, and branded two hundred 
calves, some of them nearly yearlings. Game as before 
was very abundant, and we lived on turkeys and deer- 
meat. Every now and then we scared up a bunch of 
mustangs, but, as they always galloped like mad for 
the thick chaparral, the Mexicans only managed to 
rope one ; a beauty that I can only describe as a dwarf 
horse. Him I gave to old Juan, to his huge delight. 

When we had finished our work and were about to 



GENERAL SIBLEY'S EXPEDITION 201 

leave, the Mexican in charge wanted to come away too, 
before he lost his scalp, and it was with great difficulty 
I induced him to stay, and only on the promise to relieve 
him very shortly. 

The Indians of course could have raided the ranch 
at any time that they pleased, but there were few horses 
there at that time, and that is why they left it alone. 
Cattle were of no account in their eyes, but horses they 
were always keen to steal. We had already bought 
fifty Spanish mares, at $5 a head, and fifteen " cow " 
horses at $25 apiece, but these were all on the Medio 
still, for if they had been left on the Frio unprotected, 
the Indians would have driven them off directly. 

It was now about the end of October, 1861, and General 
Sibley was organising his Texan Brigade of 3,000 mounted 
men, or three regiments in all, for his expedition to New 
Mexico. There it was supposed the Northern forces 
were weak, and that he would easily overrun the country ; 
with the result that probably the Far Western States, 
including Arizona, and even California, might join the 
Confederacy. It was a foolhardy scheme to send the 
flower of our Texan youth on a march like this of 800 
miles, into a country where they had no base of operations 
and could get no reinforcements, and no help, unless 
they met with complete success. But our leaders were 
crazy, I think, in those days, and believed they had the 
game in their own hands ; so no enterprise was too rash 
for them to undertake. I saw that gallant force march 
away, with drums beating and flags flying, and every 
man, from the General downwards, confident of victory. 

Alas ! A few months after, I saw the first detach- 
ment of the remnant come straggling back on foot, 
broken, disorganised, and in an altogether deplorable 
condition. 

The tale of disaster is soon told. The march in the 
fall rains was a most arduous one, but the men and 
horses were of the best, and struggled through it bravely. 



202 ASA MINSHUL, PREACHER 

General Canby, of the U.S. Army, was in command 
against Sibley. This officer was, long years after this, 
prominently engaged in the war with the Sioux Indians, 
led by their chief Sitting Bill, when that tribe made its 
last stand for its hunting grounds and its freedom. 
Sibley was at first successful in several engagements, 
notably at a place called Val Verde. But his losses were 
heavy ; California and the rest of the Far West stood 
firm for the Union, and no reinforcements could reach 
him. The South, even if the difficulty of distance could 
have been overcome, could not spare a man. Canby, 
on the other hand, drew all the troops and supplies 
he wanted from California, and gradually wore down his 
opponent. 

The remnant of the Texan Brigade, reduced to less 
than half its original strength, commenced its retreat, 
harassed throughout the greater part of that weary 
800 miles by the victorious enemy. The retreat became 
a rout, and the brigade ceased to exist as an organised 
force. It was a heavy blow to Texas, and to the Con- 
federate cause, which could ill afford to lose such men 
as these. 

In the following month of November, Randall still 
being behindhand with his payments, and we unwilling 
to hand over without a settlement in full, I went out to 
the Frio again, to see how my Mexican was getting on. 
This time I went quite alone, and, taking my best horse, 
Brownie by name, did the journey in one day. Not a 
pleasant trip for a lonely man to take. I started just 
before daybreak, and halting only once at midday, to 
rest my horse for a brief hour, reached the ranch at 
sundown. You may be sure I kept a sharp look-out 
for Indian sign, but saw none, and was unmolested, 
both going and returning. 

I found the vaquero all right in health, but in a blue 
funk at being left so long alone in that dangerous spot. 
By this time the hounds and curs, that had been so 



MY PET DEER'S SAD FATE 203 

threatening at my first visit, had got to know me, and gave 
me a friendly greeting ; and right amongst them, on good 
terms with all, was a pet deer that Ragsdale had tamed 
and given me. It would follow me about the place like 
a dog, and usually slept in the house, though free to 
wander about wherever it wished. I have always been fond 
of pet animals — horses, dogs, cats, monkeys, peccaries ; 
even a badger is a friendly beast, as I know from ex- 
perience, if kindly treated, and all are interesting — 
some of them very lovable. But of all the hosts of pets 
I have owned in my long life this deer was one of the 
most friendly and fearless. Of course, like so many 
of its kind, it came to a tragic end, and at the hands of 
my friend Thompson, of all people ! 

At his first visit to the ranch he saw the poor little 
fellow browsing quietly in the chaparral near the house, 
and shot it, for a wild one ! It was his ignorance of the 
ways of the wild creatures that led him to do it ; but 
when he brought it home in triumph, I was so vexed 
and grieved, and abused him so roundly, that we had a 
desperate quarrel, and didn't speak for a fortnight, 
though practically alone at the ranch. At the end of 
this time I could bear it no longer, and said, " I can 
stand this no more ; either we must make friends, or 
part — one or the other. I am sorry if I said too much. 
What do you say ? " He grasped my hand, and shook 
it warmly ; and so an end of the foolish quarrel, the only 
one we ever had. 

That night I slept at the ranch on a " cowskin," i.e. 
a skin rough-tanned and stretched on a frame, which 
makes an excellent couch. For the next two days 
we hunted the chaparral for hogs, of which Ragsdale 
said he had about 300, and I came to the conclusion 
he was about right in his calculations ; but most of 
them were so wild, and could travel so fast, they would 
have given good sport to a " pig-sticker." 

When I got back to the Medio, I found Colonel Sydney 



204 ASA MINSHUL, PREACHER 

Johnson, with a small detachment, staying at our ranch. 
He had resigned his commission in the U.S. Army, of 
which he was a most distinguished officer, and was on 
his way to Richmond to take up an important command 
under the Confederacy. He had, as a captain, done 
good service in the Mexican War, and, next to Colonel 
Robert Lee, had the highest repute of any officer in the 
U.S. Army. He was a strikingly handsome man, of 
splendid physique and most winning manners ; in fact 
he was a Southern gentleman of the best type. Soon 
after his visit to us he was promoted to the rank of 
general, and given the command of the trans-Mississippi 
district. There he did good service, but early in the 
following year, at the battle of Shiloh, when leading one 
of his regiments in a charge, he was twice wounded ; 
the second time mortally, and died on the field. The 
South lost in him one of its best soldiers and bravest 
men. 

Poor fellow ! I well remember how we sat and smoked 
and chatted on the " gallery " at the ranch, after our 
frugal dinner ; and how cheering it was to listen to his 
sanguine views as to the assured success of the Southern 
cause. Next morning we drank success to the South ; 
shook hands warmly, and parted, with the mutual hope 
we might meet again when the troubles were over. 
The brave man's own troubles were soon over, for within 
a few months of our parting he was dead on the field of 
honour, and was spared the bitter grief so many of his 
comrades endured at the ruin of their country and their 
cause. 

Now at the end of November Randall paid up the 
balance due, and we handed over the store, ranch, cattle 
and everything to him, and prepared to move out to 
the Frio. We already possessed a good wagon, but 
bought an " ambulance " for extra transport, as there 
were many impedimenta to cart out to our new diggings. 

In San Antonio I managed with some difficulty to hire 



A PATRIARCHAL MARCH 205 

three Mexican vaqueros as permanent cattle-hands, and 
two of these were blessed with " mugers " and several 
offspring. The establishment was completed by the 
hiring of a nigger woman as cook. 

Thompson looked after the armament of the garrison, 
and bought three double-barrelled shotguns, three 
rifles, and plenty of ammunition, including a good 
supply of slugs ; most useful in case our friends the 
Comanches looked us up, which they were pretty sure 
to do sooner or later. For stores we laid in a good stock 
of coffee, sugar, flour and bacon ; and so, with the wagons 
well loaded with the Mexican women and children and 
our and their " plunder," we set out for the Frio two 
days before Christmas 1861. 

It was almost like a patriarchal procession of old, for 
ahead of the wagons went Thompson, the three vaqueros, 
and myself on horseback, driving before us the fifty 
mares and fifteen " cow-horses " for cattle hunting. Our 
progress with the heavily laden wagons was slow, and it 
was not till late in the afternoon of Christmas Eve that 
we reached the ranch. Thompson was delighted with what 
he saw of the range, though he vowed it smelt of Indians. 

By the time we had got the wagons through the 
chaparral and over the difficult crossing it was nearly 
dusk, but we soon had our furniture, such as it was, in 
the house, and settled the Mexicans in their huts or 
acaldes. Then, in honour of the occasion and for a sort 
of house-warming feast, I shot a fine fat yearling, which 
provided a sumptuous dinner for all hands. How those 
Mexicans did eat ! You wouldn't believe that human 
beings could put away so much solid meat at a sitting, 
but it wasn't often the poor beggars got beef like that 
unless they stole it ; and in that case there was always 
the afterthought of the rope to follow if they were 
found out. 



CHAPTER VI 



GENERAL HOOD 



Ragsdale, as I said before, had " let his stock go," and 
there was an immense amount of work to be done in 
driving and branding calves and yearlings. 

On Christmas day no Mexican can be got to work for 
love or money, so the " fiesta," as they call it, was kept 
as best we might in that out-of-the-way place ; not 
without memories of other Christmas days, so different 
from these, and distant friends, and holly-decked churches 
in far-off England. 

My friend Thompson was very reticent about his past, 
and never spoke of it, at least not till the great parting 
was nigh at hand, when he told me why he had left his 
home and friends and come out to the Far West. For 
him as well as for myself that day was haunted by re- 
membrances, and, though we tried to be cheerful and 
jolly, I think the gaiety was rather forced, and silence 
often fell upon us. But work must be done, and it is 
the best antidote to carking care and haunting regrets. 
So next day I sallied forth with three Mexicans to drive 
cattle, and came back with a good bunch. It was that 
same evening that Thompson shot my pet deer, as 
previously related. 

Early in the following January (1862) we invited three 
friends from San Antonio to come out and have a week's 
hunting with us, and had some very good sport, which 
we all thoroughly enjoyed. 

Deer, peccary and turkeys were very abundant, espe- 

206 



HUNTING IN THE CHAPARRAL 207 

cially the peccary, which were a sure find in the chap- 
arral along the Frio banks ; the only difficulty was to 
get them out of the dense covert of thorny bush. This 
was four or five miles wide on either side of the river, 
and extended for about forty miles along its banks. 

All five of us would sally forth, after early coffee, 
well mounted and carrying shotguns and six-shooters. 
Amongst our miscellaneous collection of dogs were five 
well broken to " javalines " or peccary ; a very important 
matter, for if your hounds are not used to the ways of 
these little pigs, they are apt to get terribly cut up by 
their razor-like short tusks. They are generally found, 
in the daytime, in the chaparral near the water, in 
bunches of four or five, and, when put up by the hounds, 
go off at a clinking pace for a short distance, the pack 
in full cry after them. Presently, being fat and short 
of wind, they set up against a tree or rock, ready to 
charge the first comer, be it man, or horse, or dog. They 
are absolutely fearless when cornered like this, and 
nothing will stop them but death ; so the dogs that 
hunt them soon learn by sad experience not to get too 
close. I have had dogs that would kill them, but they 
were new to the game, and always got badly cut up. 

The hounds then being thrown into covert, we rode 
along outside, or followed the narrow cattle-paths as 
best we might, riding to the music of the pack as fast as 
the awful cat-claw thorns would let us. Presently the 
sound showed the run was over, and the peccary " set 
up," and it was a race who should get up first to shoot 
the pig or pigs. Our friends from San Antonio, being 
new to the sport, and eager for blood, got terribly torn 
by the thorns at first, but soon learned caution. In 
this way we often killed half a dozen peccary of a 
morning. We never ate the meat, though why I hardly 
know, except that no one in Texas did, unless it was the 
Mexicans when short of flesh. I have been told since 
that peccary hams are considered quite a delicacy in 



208 GENERAL HOOD 

Central America, but never having tasted them, can't 
say. The Mexicans generally took the hides off, and 
they made capital mats and floor-coverings. 

To get deer was a more difficult matter in that thick 
covert, though there were any number of them on the 
Frio in those days. The usual way was for the guns to 
take post on the deer-trails leading down to the river, 
and then to turn every available dog into the chaparral, 
on the chance that the deer might break for the water 
and give a shot ; but it was very uncertain work, and 
one might wait all day without seeing a deer. Another 
way was to beat the comparatively open brushy glades 
under the live-oak trees, round the great water-holes or 
miniature lakes, and in that fashion good sport was 
often to be had. 

For the wild turkeys we used to go down to the river 
after supper, a little before sundown, and take post near 
the roosts with guns loaded with buckshot. The Frio 
in dry weather formed a series of small lakes from one 
hundred to four hundred yards in length, with sub- 
terranean connection between each, and the water was 
beautifully clear and blue. Round all there were fringes 
of splendid live-oaks, and there the turkeys came nightly 
to roost, their favourite spots being clearly to be seen 
from the " sign " under the trees. 

Hiding oneself near the selected roost one could sit 
and smoke at ease, with the certainty that some old 
patriarch of a gobbler would presently come along with 
his harem of perhaps ten or a dozen hens. As the sun 
dipped below the horizon, and the brief twilight began 
to fade into darkness, the gobblers commenced to summon 
their families to bed, and the chaparral soon resounded 
with their cries. Then, solemnly marching down the 
path to its own particular roost, would come the pro- 
cession, in single file, with stately steps. With much 
flapping of wings, for it is difficult to raise so heavy a 
body off the ground, the leader flies up into the tree, 



TURKEY-BOOSTS 209 

and his family quickly follow him, one by one. Not 
till all are settled must you shoot, or the first shot will 
scare the whole lot away. When all have flown up you 
can shoot three or four, or more perhaps, without the 
others moving ; only you must be careful not to show 
yourself. In those days the turkeys didn't seem to 
know what the report of a gun meant, though they 
understood well enough that a man was an enemy ; now 
I daresay they are wiser — i.e. if there are any left to 
profit by the experience of their forbears. 

Another way to get them wholesale, was to walk 
down the river, following the cattle or deer trails of a 
moonlit night, and shoot them off the various roosts 
you came to. Doing this, I have often shot twenty 
or more of a night, but that was only when I was sending 
a wagon into San Antonio and wanted a load for my 
various friends there, not forgetting that holy man 
Mr. Asa Minshul, with whom, as I have explained, I was 
particularly anxious to keep on friendly terms. 

By the by, on one of these walking shoots Thompson 
nearly killed me. He was walking close behind me and, 
by some carelessness, let off his gun. One of the buck- 
shots cut my pants and grazed my leg ; it was a narrow 
escape, one of the narrowest of the many I have had. 
" Now, old fellow," I said, " it's my turn, so you walk 
ahead, and let me have the next shot." 

As the result of the shoot, our friends carried away 
with them, in my wagon, two deer and forty turkeys, 
and were mightily pleased with their sport. 

On the prairie there were many coyotes, or prairie 
wolves, and " lobos," as the Mexicans called them ; the 
big grey variety of the same species. At that time 
neither of them afforded us any sport, for our hounds 
were not fast enough to run them with any chance of a 
kill. Later on we got a small pack, specially for the 
purpose, and had some rare good fun with them. 

The coyote is the most artful, sneaking, thieving 

14 



210 GENERAL HOOD 

brute in creation, and makes himself a great nuisance 
on the ranches. How wonderfully Mark Twain has 
described him, in his celebrated monograph ! The 
beast is all Mark says, and a little more ; for though 
he lives chiefly on carrion and any unconsidered trifle 
he can steal, he is not above helping himself to a 
sick calf, if he can catch it away from the cow, and 
chickens he is death on ! And what a pace the gaunt, 
mangy-looking " varmint " can travel ! Since my Texan 
days I have seen many a good fox bustled along by a 
fast pack of hounds, but a coyote, I believe, would have 
the legs of the fastest and outlast the staunchest. 

The " lobos " were thundering great brutes and did 
us a lot of damage, especially in calving time, when they 
killed many calves. They couldn't do much with the 
cattle, or bunches of mares and horses, for these, when 
attacked, formed square to receive the enemy ; the 
former with their heads, and the latter with their heels, 
outwards. But they snapped many a yearling and 
young thing, if they could catch them away from a herd. 
We rid ourselves, as much as we could, of these pests 
with poison, sticking a good dose of strychnine into any 
dead beast found on the range, or into offal laid for the 
purpose. But I am bound to confess that we were more 
successful in killing the lobos in this way than the coyotes ; 
for the latter were so artful, and so keen of scent, it was 
very hard to catch them. 

For the first two months of the following year, 
Thompson, the Mexicans, and I were on horseback every 
day, and all day, gathering cows and calves in the home 
range and making ourselves thoroughly acquainted with 
it, so that we might know where to find the cattle when 
wanted ; for these have their different feeding grounds, 
scattered far and wide over the range. 

There were plenty of rumours of Indians on the move, 
which caused us some uneasiness, and much trouble, 
for we had to corral the horses every night. Early in 



FLAYING DEAD INDIANS 211 

February a big band of them passed within a couple of 
miles of the ranch, as we saw from their trail. They 
killed half a dozen or so of our cattle, but didn't molest 
us further, possibly because they thought we were too 
strong and well armed. Passing us by for that, or some 
other good reason, they went on to the head of the Hondo 
River, about twenty-five miles from us, and there killed, 
scalped, and mutilated a settler named Reeders and his 
two sons. These poor fellows had, in a measure, courted 
their fate by doing a deed which, though it was highly 
applauded all along the frontier, where Indians were 
" pison," was a very brutal and barbarous one, worthy 
only of the Comanches themselves. 

Six months before they met their fate, the Reeders, 
who were old and experienced frontiersmen, having seen 
Indian sign about their ranch, penned their horses one 
night, and lay up, armed with their rifles and six-shooters, 
in the corral. Sure enough, an hour or two before dawn 
a big bunch of Indians rode up, threw down the corral 
bars, and began to drive out the horses. The Reeders 
let drive into the thick of the Comanches, but in the 
darkness couldn't aim, and only killed two of them. 
The rest bolted, leaving their dead behind them, which 
shows they were properly scared by the unexpected 
attack. 

So far so good ; but the Reeders, not content with 
having killed two of the thieves, proceeded next day to 
flay them. Then they stretched, dried, and rough- 
tanned the skins for saddle-tree covers, razor-strops, 
belts, etc. This was soon " orated round " on the 
frontier, and won the perpetrators much kudos amongst 
the ranchers. But the wiser, cooler ones shook their 
heads ; the Comanches, they knew, would be revenged 
for this insult to their dead, and the Reeders had better 
look out, or they would get them to a certainty. 

They were right, for in less than six months the Indians 
followed them from the ranch, when they went cow- 



212 GENERAL HOOD 

hunting, and caught them unawares, no one knows how. 
When they didn't come back, search was made the fol- 
lowing day by their nearest neighbour, and the poor 
mutilated bodies found not far away. The poor widow, 
robbed in one day of her husband and her sons, all she 
had in the world, was broken-hearted, and died not long 
afterwards in San Antonio. 

On this same raid the Comanehes attacked a ranch 
near Dhannis, in the same country, not far from Fort Inge, 
formerly held in some force by the U.S. troops, to keep 
down the Indians and protect the frontier. The men, as 
the Indians probably knew, were away cow-hunting, so 
they killed, and scalped, the mother and her two little 
girls, three and five years old. At that ranch alone they 
got over one hundred horses, and crossed the Rio Grande 
unmolested. There were no troops to follow them, and 
the settlements were so sparsely scattered in that region, 
it was hopeless to organise a scout for pursuit ; indeed, 
before the news reached us, they must have been close to 
the Mexican border. 

Talking of Forte Inge reminds me that I forgot to 
mention that I met there, when Thompson and I were 
prospecting the previous year, a U.S. officer who, at the 
time I am now writing of, had made himself one of 
the most brilliant reputations in the Confederate service. 
I refer to General Hood, a man of indomitable courage, 
whose fiery spirit and power of leadership prompted his 
men to such deeds of valour as all the world wondered at. 
His story, I suppose, is all but forgotten now, for things 
move so rapidly in these times, and there are so many 
fresh excitements, that the great and heroic struggle of 
the Confederacy itself is almost like a half-remembered 
dream, even to those who took part in it. His name, 
however, should never die, but live for all time on the 
scroll of deeds of honour. 

I will, as briefly as may be, recount how he, and his 
Texan Brigade, covered themselves with renown at 



THE MEETING AT FORT INGE 213 

Gaines' Mill, in the great fight with McClellan, on the 
Chickahominy ; but first as to our meeting in the wilds 
of the Mexican frontier. 

He was then about thirty years of age, a simple lieu- 
tenant of U.S. cavalry, in command of the post. 

Thompson and I pitched camp one evening close to 
Fort Inge — i.e. we had off -saddled our horses and were 
cooking our supper, when Hood strolled over, probably 
to see who we were, and what we were doing. I remember 
now what a splendid man he was to look upon, every 
inch a soldier, and withal most courteous and genial. I 
suppose he satisfied himself we were decent men, though 
I am free to confess our appearance, and get up generally, 
must have been but a poor recommendation, for we had 
been looking round for more than a month, without 
change of raiment. 

Be that as it may, after a few minutes' talk he pressed 
us to come into the fort to sup with him. " We rough 
it out here, as you know," he said, " but at any rate, I 
can do you better than that dried beef you're trying to 
eat ; so come along, and we'll have a game of cards after 
supper." We accepted the cordial invitation willingly 
enough, and after a supper which was sumptuous to us, 
fresh from a diet of dried beef, biscuit and coffee, played 
euchre with him and his officers till midnight. Then, 
after a very friendly parting, and refusing an invitation 
to sleep in the fort, since we must look after our horses, 
we went back to our blankets and saddle-pillows. 
Departing at sunrise, we saw no more of our kindly 
host. 

The next time I met Hood was soon after the war, when 
he had turned his sword, not into a ploughshare, but an 
office ruler, for he was keeping store in New Orleans. He 
was the same genial, pleasant fellow, without side or 
swagger, and no one would suppose, from talking to him, 
he had ever done anything out of the common. I re- 
member his left coat-sleeve was empty, the result of one 



214 GENERAL HOOD 

of the many wounds he received in the gallant charge at 
Gaines' Mill. 

On the morning of June 26, 1862, General Lee com- 
menced his daring attack on the strong position held by 
the Federals, under General McClellan, on the Chicka- 
hominy, near Richmond, the Confederate capital. The 
Federal general had 120,000 men in line, and General 
McDowell was hastening to join him with 40,000 more. 
So there was no time to be lost, for General Lee had 
only 70,000 under his command. 

In that series of combats lasting from June 26 to 
July 1, and known as " The seven days under Richmond," 
and in which Lee first revealed himself as a great captain, 
two incidents stand out with prominence. The first, 
General James Stuart's daring ride through the Federal 
lines, with twelve hundred men, when sent to recon- 
noitre the enemy's position. It was indeed a brilliant 
feat of arms this young officer (he was only thirty) per- 
formed. For three days, from the Thursday morning 
till the Saturday night, he and his gallant men rode over 
the enemy's position, and found out his strength and 
his weakness, with the loss of only one soul, the brave 
Captain Latarie, shot dead the first day. With this 
single loss, he contrived to capture many prisoners, horses 
and mules, and to destroy millions of dollars' worth of 
stores and provisions. 

The second notable incident was Hood's charge with 
his Texans, on the evening of June 27. By the morning 
of that day Lee had driven back the Federals from 
position after position, and McClellan had made up his 
mind to withdraw his forces to the James River. To 
enable him to execute this movement it was essential that 
his right position, where General Fitz John Porter, one 
of his ablest divisional leaders, commanded, should be 
held at all hazards. It comprised a range of precipitous 
wooded heights, at the foot of which ran a boggy creek, 
beyond which was open ground cumbered by fallen trees. 



HE LEADS THE 4TH TEXAS 215 

In the brushwood on the slope lay hidden thousands of 
sharpshooters, half-way up extended a stong force of 
infantry, ensconced behind a parapet of trunks of trees, 
and behind this a second parapet of the same nature, 
also strongly held. Beyond the top of this well-guarded 
height, the ground dipped down into a narrow ravine, 
and on the summit of the further slope was a third line 
of infantry, and a strong force of artillery. 

General A. P. Hill's division had been repulsed from 
the right of this formidable position, and, to save him 
from destruction, Lee ordered General Longstreet to make 
a feigned attack on the left. But to be of any service to 
Hill, the latter saw he must convert his attack into a 
real one, which he most gallantly did. With terrible loss 
he carried all the defences, up to the top of the first height ; 
but his men recoiled from the concentrated infantry and 
artillery fire poured on them from across the ravine, and 
they could make no progress. 

It was at this juncture that Hood and his Texan 
Brigade were called upon for the desperate duty of cap- 
turing this stronghold. Of the four regiments composing 
it, three had been almost wholly cut up by the Federal 
fire, and one remained in reserve, five hundred strong. 
It was the 4th Texas Infantry, and at that moment was 
lying on the ground below the crest of the slope, for 
shelter from the withering fire. 

Hood spoke a few words to them as they lay, telling 
them what they had to do, and that he knew they were 
the boys to do it. Then he ordered them to fix bayonets. 
Up they rose at his command, and over the top of the 
rise and into the ravine they went, that gallant five 
hundred, with a cheer that was heard above the din of 
battle. The colonel fell immediately ; but Hood was 
leading his boys, and they would follow to the death. 

Through the extended ranks of these heroes passed the 
broken lines of the Third Brigade, recoiling from the awful 
fire from that fatal palisade ; but, nothing daunted, they 



216 GENERAL HOOD 

still held on to what seemed certain destruction. The 
hail of bullets thinned their ranks — Hood himself was 
wounded twice, one shot breaking his left arm — but on 
they went without pause, over the dead and dying. 

Now the remnant of that wonderful five hundred — I 
don't know how many there were, but not much more 
than half — were close to the rampart. Their comrades 
watched with bated breath ; was it possible they could 
storm it ? To such men, and to such a leader, all things 
were possible ; but the Federals didn't wait to see, for, 
terrified at the fierce attack, they rose up and ran. Helter- 
skelter after them clambered Hood and his men. The 
work was won, and the Confederate flag floated over it, 
amidst the frantic cheers of the onlookers. 

I don't think our own British annals contain a more 
gallant deed than this, and it warms my heart now to 
remember that I have met the man who did it. 



CHAPTER VII 

THE HORSE-STEALERS 

All that spring of 1862 work on the range was almost 
incessant, for there was a very good " crop " of calves. 
We were generally in the saddle soon after daybreak, and 
by midday would drive home from ten to twenty cows, 
with their calves at foot. Then, after a short dinner- 
hour, out again on fresh horses, returning before sun- 
down with yet another bunch. This hunting up of cows 
and calves sounds, I daresay, easy enough work, but on 
a big cattle-ranch like ours, where the cattle ranged over 
miles of country, it was no child's play. For the cows, 
half wild as they were, with the instinct of their race hid 
their calves in the chaparral, where it was hard to find 
them. But they had to be found, for success in ranching 
depends on the careful and thorough manner in which 
this calf -hunting is done. If you don't look sharply after 
them, the half of your " crop " will be lost, killed by 
" lobos" or coyotes, or eaten up alive by maggots. 

The last were, I think, the most destructive of all our 
enemies, for the blow-flies were more numerous and 
active than any one in this country would credit. Once 
the brutes had found, or established, a raw spot, be it 
ever so small, on a calf, or even on a cow or steer, it was 
all up with them if not promptly seen to and dressed 
with sheep-dip. 

So we worked hard, but with great success, for that 
spring and early summer we branded more than a 
thousand calves and young things. 

The range was unequalled by any I have ever seen, 

217 



218 THE HORSESTEALERS 

and the prospect of success seemed assured ; the Indians 
were the only drawback to this rancher's paradise, 
and even these one soon ceased to worry about, though 
of course proper precautions, such as corralling the horses 
at night, were always taken. There was certainly a 
fortune in the ranch, with anything like good luck ; for 
if the stock was well looked after we should be the owners, 
in a few years' time, of at least ten thousand cattle, and 
these some of the finest in all the States ! And yet I 
was foolish enough to throw away this splendid chance 
because I must needs meddle in the quarrel between 
the North and South, and go a-soldiering with the latter ! 

About once a month, at this period, I rode into San 
Antonio, seventy miles of rather risky riding, to get the 
news of the war ; for on the Frio we heard nothing, and 
rarely saw a white man, so far were we from the beaten 
track. The ups and downs of the great struggle the 
Confederacy carried on so bravely, against such fearful 
odds, were most exciting ; and more and more, resist it 
as I might, I felt drawn to take my part in it. And yet 
for a brief period longer I managed to keep away from 
it ; and mainly because of the necessity of protecting 
our property from the marauding Indians. 

On one of these trips I hired three more Mexican 
vaqueros to help in the cattle-driving, making, with those 
we already had, eight in all ; and not too many for all 
the work to be done. 

We managed the calves as follows : When driven home 
we penned them in one or other of the corrals set apart 
for them, and then drove the cows out ; no easy matter 
sometimes. Night and morning the cows returned to 
suckle the youngsters, and then were turned out again. 
It was quite a sight to see hundreds of ihese anxious 
mothers waiting round the corrals to be let in. And 
the row they made with their lowing was astonishing ! 
But at night the din was even greater ; for to the lowing 
of the cows was added the bellowing of the bulls and 



NOISES MAKE NIGHT HIDEOUS 219 

the squealing of the stallions. Round the corrals were 
placed big logs of wood, in which holes were bored with 
a 2-inch auger to hold salt for the stock to lick. To 
these came the bulls with their cows, and the stallions 
with their " manadas " of mares, but always at night ; 
and the noise of their battles, the howling of the great 
" lobos" and the barking of the coyotes, that followed 
the stock for a chance victim, answered vociferously 
by all our dogs, made night hideous indeed ! But a long 
day in the saddle was an excellent soporific and, after a 
bit, one could generally contrive to sleep through it all. 

Whilst cattle-driving we often came across big bunches 
of mustangs, but seldom went after them, for unless you 
have a very strong party and the best of horses, it is 
very difficult to run them down. Though the hardest, 
toughest little brutes in the world, they are very trouble- 
some to "gentle," and never are what one would call 
comfortable mounts ; in fact they are more bother than 
they are worth. 

But on one of our drives on the Leona River, one of the 
Mexicans sighted afar off a big bunch that had some 
stray horses running wild with it. So, with two of my 
best mounted men, I started to run the mustangs in 
the hope of cutting out the horses. For five good miles 
we galloped as hard as we could go, and then one of the 
" strays," which turned out to be a Spanish mare in 
foal, tailed off. Leaving one vaquero behind to rope her, 
I went on after the bunch with the other, and eventually 
cut out both the other horses and roped them too. I 
was short of " cow-horses," so this was a stroke of luck ; 
and I returned to the ranch, after a week's camping out, 
in high feather, with my three horses and 150 head 
of cattle. These " strays " had Mexican brands on them, 
so they had come from over the river, or I should have 
had to hand them over to their owners. 

On another occasion that same spring, low down on 
the Frio, my Mexicans and I came on a large bunch of 



220 THE HORSESTEALERS 

mustangs, with many foals in it. Having no cattle under 
herd at the time, I determined to run it, and cut out 
some of the youngsters. The mustangs were quite a 
mile ahead of us, and the moment they sighted us went 
off at a tremendous pace. I knew the foals couldn't 
stand that long, so pressed on after the bunch as hard 
as I could. One by one the little fellows dropped out 
till after we had run the mafiada for about eight or nine 
miles, we had left a good many foals behind us. Then, 
as it was getting dusk, we took the back trail, and picked 
up six of the youngsters without much trouble ; for their 
friends and maternal relatives having long since disap- 
peared, they seemed only too glad to follow our horses. 

Next day I got them home to the ranch and shut them 
in a calf-pen, where they very soon learned to drink 
cows' milk out of buckets, and throve mightily thereon. 
In a short time they were the cheekiest, most mischievous, 
and most amusing party on the ranch. Five of them 
lived to make very good cow-horses ; for they could 
carry a Mexican cow-hunting all day, and every day, 
though only little rats of things to look at, not more 
than about twelve hands high. 

About this time a young fellow named Jack Vinton 
came out to us from San Antonio, where he was loafing 
about and doing no good. His father, Colonel Vinton, 
was a West Point man, and had been in command of the 
U.S. troops in Texas prior to General Twig of sur- 
render fame. The youngster was rather a lively youth ; 
he was only nineteen, and had, I fancy, given his father 
some trouble. The Colonel, with whom I was very 
friendly, therefore asked me to give an eye to him, when 
he himself left San Antonio for the North, on the eve 
of the outbreak of the war. In that, being a Northern 
man, he served on the Federal side with some distinction, 
rising, if I remember right, to be Adjutant-General to 
the Forces. So Master Jack came out to us, and 
made himself useful on the ranch, which was the very 



COMANCHE TACTICS 221 

place for him ; for he was as hard as nails, a first-rate 
cowboy, and not afraid of Indians, or anything else. 

Just then we were kept pretty well on the qui vive 
by these gentry, plenty of their sign being seen about 
the range, and Jack was a very desirable addition to our 
little party. We had by this time a strong party of 
" Greasers," but these Mexicans are no good for Indian 
fighting. If they are cornered and can't get away, they 
will fight ; but if there is a chance to run, they take it 
like a shot. 

As a rule, the Comanches never showed themselves 
near the ranches in early spring ; but as the season 
advanced, and the leaves thickened, they began to get 
to work. Lying hidden in the dense chaparral, in 
parties of twos and threes, they gradually collected 
together what horses they could pick up on the ranges. 
During that time one might pass close to them and, 
though quite alone, not be attacked. But when they had 
got together a good lot of horses, they were ready for 
serious business, and started in to kill and scalp all 
they could come across ; the worst time being usually 
before the full of the moon. 

I could fill many pages with accounts of their murderous 
doings, for in those days they had the whole frontier of 
three or four hundred miles at their mercy But it would 
only weary the reader with the dull monotony of blood- 
shed : here and there solitary cow-hunters killed, scalped, 
and mutilated, or defenceless women and children 
massacred in some lonely ranch. Indeed, for the time 
being, the wretches had things pretty much their own 
way ; but by and by it was our turn, and I shall be able 
to tell how we now and then took it out of our friends 
the Comanches and the Lepans. 

At this time too we were a good deal bothered by the 
frontier Mexicans from the State of Nuevo Leon, who 
crossed the Rio Grande into Texas to steal horses. As 
most of these gentry had been vaqueros on the cattle- 



222 THE HORSE-STEALERS 

ranches, they knew the country thoroughly, and where 
to lay their hands on what they wanted, so that it was 
most difficult to catch them, and in most cases they got 
clear off with their plunder. When caught, they of course 
" looked up " the nearest convenient tree. 

Here is a story of their doings, and of the summary 
justice meted out to a small party of these thieves we 
by good luck managed to catch. 

It was in the month of May that one of our Mexicans 
told me a party of his compatriots had come in to steal 
my horses, and those on a big ranch on the Hondo, some 
thirty miles away, belonging to Pete Burleson. I promptly 
sent a note to Burleson, to let him know what was up, 
and to ask him to keep a look-out for any sign of the 
thieving Mexicans, so that we might know where they 
were making for, if they had been about his place. That 
same night my Mexican brought a note from Pete, 
saying he had found " sign " of a bunch of horses being 
fresh driven for the Rio Grande, and that the trail pointed 
for the San Felipe crossing ; that he, with three or four 
more, would meet me next day on the Carisa Creek, near 
the " old Presidio crossing," where he would camp. 

By daybreak next morning Jack Vinton, two of my 
best Mexicans, and I started and, picking up two fellows, 
named Bennett and English, on the Leona, made Burle- 
son's camp on the Carisa before sundown. Our two 
parties made up eleven, all told. As soon as it was 
light enough next morning, we saddled up and, with 
Jack Bennett, a capital trailer, leading, soon hit the 
trail, which, sure enough as Pete had surmised, led towards 
the San Felipe crossing. There was no time to be lost, 
if we were not to have our trouble for nothing, and we 
" loped "on it as fast as we could go. Bennett declared 
the trail was so fresh the thieves couldn't be far ahead 
of us ; but on we went, mile after mile, and still they were 
in front of us. 

We had ridden a good thirty miles, and twilight was 



PUT TO THE VOTE 223 

deepening into dusk when, topping a ridge on the prairie, 
we came right on our quarry, camped ina " mott " near 
a water-hole about four miles only from the river. One 
of the thieves was mounted, and was herding the stolen 
horses ; the rest had off-saddled and, believing them- 
selves quite secure from pursuit, were cooking supper. 
The mounted man bolted the moment he caught sight 
of us, and got clear off, though two of our boys hunted 
him right up to the river's bank. The others — there were 
four of them — were surrounded in the " mott " before 
they knew what was up, and they at once surrendered, 
rather than be shot there and then. 

Pinioning them securely, we set a guard over them, 
and then gathered the stolen horses, twenty in number, 
six of which bore my own brand. As it was now nearly 
dark, my Mexicans were set to herd the horses, whilst 
we cooked supper and fixed camp. The fate of the 
prisoners was reserved till next morning, when it would 
be decided, as usual, by the vote of the majority of the 
party. This voting, I may say, was a mere formality, 
for in such a flagrant case as this, hanging was inevitable. 

After breakfast the next morning we stepped aside 
a few paces from the camp, and Pete Burleson, as the 
senior present, put the question to each individual. 
" What shall we do with the prisoners ? " Now, no 
doubt, these thieves deserved hanging, if horse-thieves 
were ever to be hanged ; for all of them had recently 
been employed on the ranches they had robbed, except 
mine ; but there was always something horribly cold- 
blooded and cruel to my mind in this hanging, and I am 
glad to think that I never did vote for that punishment, 
in all my Western experiences. In this case I voted for 
flogging the prisoners, and turning them loose on the 
prairie, and my Mexicans voted with me. But of course 
we were in a minority of three, and the majority of 
eight went for hanging. 

When told the decision, the miserable wretches took it 



224 THE HOKSE-STEALERS 

quite calmly, all but one, Carildo by name, and he had 
served one of our party, Jack Bowles, as vaquero. He had 
evidently no hope of mercy, and did not beg for life, 
only that his old master would shoot him, and so save 
him from hanging. So he was shot, and the other 
three were hanged on live-oak trees hard by the camp ; 
and then we set off home [with the recovered horses, 
most of us in high spirits at our successful catch. It 
was necessary to teach these " Greasers " that the 
ways of horse-thieves are hard, but I confess the live- 
oaks, and their horrible dangling burdens, haunted me, 
so that I felt sorry I had been at the catching of them ; 
which was perhaps foolish, not to say weak. 

At the end of this month of May 1862, two of my 
neighbour ranchers, Louis Oje and Mont Woodward, 
who had big cattle-ranches on the frontier, about twenty- 
five to thirty miles away from us, made up a party, 
with myself, to hunt stray cattle in the forks of the 
Nueces. We took eight vaqueros and plenty of spare 
horses, and, making our headquarters in a dilapidated 
mustanger's hut, with corrals near by, handy for penning 
the cattle, spent a week there, doing some good driving. 
At night we sat round the camp fire smoking and yarning, 
but most of our talk was of the war, and of the terrible 
hardships of the Confederate troops, especially under 
Stonewall Jackson, 

We were all experienced frontiersmen, owning big 
ranches on the borders of the Indian country, and were 
inured to hard knocks and a rough life. It might be 
thought we had enough to do to hold our own against 
the Comanches and Lepans, who would give us as much 
fighting as we could want, and who would probably 
harry our stock if we went off to the war. These con- 
siderations, in our earlier talks, made us reluctantly 
agree that we could not leave, at any rate not till things 
were more settled on the frontier ; though how they 
could ever be so, whilst the war lasted, was difficult to 



MONT WOODWARD SPEAKS 225 

see. But still, night after night we went back to the 
same subject, for our heads were full of it, and we could 
talk of nothing else. 

At that time McClellan was invading Virginia, by way 
of the peninsula, and threatening Richmond, the capital 
of the State and of the Confederacy. The Federal com- 
mander was said to have more than 150,000 men under 
him in the vicinity of our capital ; whilst McDowell 
Fremont, Franklin, and other division leaders of the 
North were hastening to reinforce him with 60,000 or 
70,000 more. To oppose this terrible array of armies, 
thoroughly equipped and armed, with all the resources 
of the Northern States behind them, Generals Sidney 
Johnston, Lee, and Jackson had no more than 70,000 ill- 
clad, half-starved men. A ragged crew to look upon, 
these ; but for all that the best fighting men of the 
South, and, under such leaders as Lee and Stonewall 
Jackson, all but invincible. The tale of their doings 
set our hearts on fire, for we were all ardent Southerners, 
and it was a tale to inflame the coldest blood. Yet we 
couldn't go and do our share, and take our part for the 
cause we believed in, and which so sorely needed every 
man who could carry a rifle. We had made up our 
minds, and so an end of it. This lasted for a day or two, 
and talk languished over the camp fire, till we fell moody 
and silent. The last night had come, our trip was over, 
and the next day we should drive our captured cattle 
home to our ranches, brand calves, fight Indians, hunt 
horse-stealing Mexicans, and leave our friends and foes 
to battle it out in Virginia. It seemed a tame conclusion 
to arrive at. But what would you ? We couldn't help it. 

The last pipe was smoked for the night, and the blankets 
were spread. We were going to turn in, when Mont 
Woodward, who hadn't spoken a word for an hour, 
rose, stretched himself on his long legs, and opened his 
mouth to some purpose. " Blame me, boys, I can't 
stand to think of it any more. The cattle may go to 

15 



226 THE HORSE-STEALERS 

h , or the cussed Injuns may eat 'em for all I care. 

I'm goin' to 'list right off. Soon's these beef are at the 
ranch, I make tracks for San Antonio right away." 

Mont had solved the problem for us. Louis and I 
jumped to our feet together. " We'll go too, Mont," 
we said in one breath. And that is how I became a 
Confederate soldier. 

When I told Thompson my resolve, he tried hard to 
dissuade me from it ; but seeing my mind was made up, 
said he would do his best in my absence, if go I must. 
He was getting to be quite the vaquero himself, and, 
having young Vinton, with a good lot of Mexicans, to 
help him, I felt fairly easy in my mind at leaving him. 

As to the Indians, I knew the old fellow wouldn't run 
any unnecessary risks, and wouldn't go far from the 
ranch by himself. 

So in the last days of May I set off for San Antonio, 
where I was to meet Oje and Woodward, for we had 
made up our minds to enlist in the same corps and serve 
together. Sure enough they rode in together, the same 
evening of my arrival. We learned that a man named 
Dunn, of the firm of Dunn & McCarthy, contractors and 
merchants, was raising a company of Partisan Rangers for 
the service, and that, we thought, was just the corps for us. 

The partners were both well known to me, for they were 
my agents and " merchants," through whom I transacted 
all my business. So next morning we three walked over 
to their office and I, being a valued client, was promptly 
ushered into the sanctum. When I told my errand, and 
that I had brought two more recruits of just the sort to 
suit him, Dunn said he would be very glad to have us, 
for he wanted men badly, if we had made up our minds ; 
though, if he were in our position, with our property 
and cattle on that dangerous frontier, it would take 
a good deal to induce him to enlist. The end of it was 
we were sworn in there and then, and became Partisan 
Rangers in Dunn's company. 



BOOK IV 
IN THE CONFEDERATE SERVICE 



227 



CHAPTER I 

ON THE BUSHWHACKERS' TRACK 

Very pleased was I that, at last, I was enlisted to fight 
under the banner of the Confederacy, and my one desire 
was to go to the front, where, in Virginia, Lee and Stone- 
wall Jackson and the rest of our gallant leaders, were 
fighting their heroic battles against such desperate odds. 

I make no boast of this. Why should I ? I enlisted 
of my own free will, and against my own interests, 
which should have led me to stay at home to protect my 
property ; and my object was to strike a blow for the 
noble cause I had at heart. As to that cause, I did 
not then doubt that it was a sacred one, and that the 
Southern States were justified in resisting to the death 
the oppression of the North. But as to the representa- 
tives of that noble cause in Texas — the local nobodies 
who ruled the roast, and exploited us for their own base 
and selfish ends — I was very speedily disillusioned. 

In times of convulsion and strife, great leaders, of 
the purest patriotism, are thrown up to guide and direct 
affairs at the centre of the movement, if there is any 
vitality in it, any great principle for which a nation is 
struggling. But in the outlying districts, the extre- 
mities of the body politic, the pulse of patriotism seems 
to beat but feebly. There the scum of the population 
rises to the surface, and there corruption and self- 
seeking are rife. 

This generalisation may appear a sweeping one ; but 
I think it is borne out by history, to take only what 
happened in the Franco-German War, our War of 



230 ON THE BUSHWHACKERS' TRACK 

Secession, and the late Boer War. At any ^rate it 
was absolutely true as regards Texas, and the out- 
laying States of the Confederacy. For there loud- 
tongued local nobodies talked themselves into power 
and position, and used them to rob their suffering 
country, and to defraud the soldiers fighting her 
battles. And of all these harpies, none were worse 
than my friend, and immediate commanding officer, 
Captain Dunn — that is, be it understood, in his own 
small way. His opportunities for peculation were 
never very great, but such as they were he, I am bound 
to say, made the most of them. 

Instead of going to the front, I was kept hanging about 
in Texas month after month, sent here and there to 
arrest supposed Unionists, or to hunt down imaginary 
express riders carrying mails which only existed in the 
fuddled brains of our leaders — fools' errands, on which 
I and my comrades rode many and many a weary mile, 
knowing only too well the real nature of them. And all 
this time I was in the toils of this villain Dunn, and couldn't 
escape by any honourable road, for I had enlisted for 
three years, or for the war. I could have got away by 
malingering, as many men did, and making it worth 
our Captain's while to connive at it, but this I could 
not do. So I served on under him, and found him to be 
not only the scheming rascal so many were, but as 
cowardly, cold-blooded a murderer as I had ever met 
even in the roaring days of the Kansas " War." 

I don't purpose to tell in detail the story of my service 
in the State with the Partizan Rangers ; that would 
be wearisome and monotonous. But a few incidents 
must be given, to bear out what I have said ; and one 
in particular, at the remembrance of which I shudder 
still, shall be described at some length, shameful as it is. 

Now to my story. 

Directly we three were sworn in we were sent to join 
our camp about two miles out of San Antonio, where our 



A WILD-GOOSE CHASE 231 

horses were valued by the Commandant, and paid for 
in Confederate notes. For already, even at this period 
of the war, there was no cash in the country ; every- 
thing was paid in notes, at an ever-increasing discount. 
Even these notes, after a time, became scarce, and then 
every one — merchants, storekeepers, down to the very 
barbers — issued promissory notes of their own, wherewith 
to pay their debts. Perhaps not quite a " new way to 
pay old debts," but a very bad one, for it led, naturally 
enough, to any amount of fraud and swindling, not to 
mention forgery. 

For ten days we were kept hard at work drilling, but 
unfortunately under instructors who knew but little 
more of the mysteries of the science than we did ourselves ; 
so I fear we were not very proficient at the end of that 
brief period. For all that we were a useful body of 
irregular cavalry, for the most part hardbitten frontiers- 
men who would give a good account of themselves in any 
fighting for which they were adapted. All the more 
shame to waste their services, fooling about in Texas, 
as the authorities did. At the end of this time I was 
sent off with two others, at a moment's notice, in pursuit 
of a man supposed to be carrying despatches from some 
of the disaffected Texans, into Mexico. Some one 
dreamed this phantom express had passed through 
Castroville on his way to the frontier, and we were to 
catch him somewhere before he got to the Rio Grande. 

That day we rode fifty miles, neither at Castroville, 
nor at any of the neighbouring ranches, getting any 
tidings of the fugitive. All next day we pursued our 
imaginary quest, with the same result : no one knew, 
no one had heard of such a man as we were after. So 
the third day we returned to Castroville and, on the 
evening of the fourth, to San Antonio, where we learned 
that our company had that morning marched for Fried- 
ricksburg, a town some eighty miles to the north, there 
to proclaim martial law in that county. 



232 ON THE BUSHWHACKERS' TRACK 

Two hours we rested, and then set off to overtake the 
company : rode on till 1 a.m., then off-saddled and lay 
down on our blankets for a couple of hours' sleep. Start- 
ing again at 3 a.m. we came up with the company just 
as it was breaking camp for the second day's march. 
That night we camped within eighteen miles of Fried- 
ricksburg ; and I confess I was fairly done up, for I had 
been in the saddle for best part of five days and nights. 

Friedricksburg was a town of about 800 inhabitants, 
almost all of them Germans, and Unionists to a man. 
The object of our expedition was to compel these people 
to take the oath of allegiance to the Confederate Govern- 
ment, which most of them did, though some cleared out 
and took to the mountains rather than perjure them- 



After three days' halt in this town forty of us, of whom 
I was one, were detailed to march to camp Verde, forty 
miles distant, to overawe, or convert into Southerners, 
more Germans of Northern proclivities. 

From this camp two Rangers and myself were sent 
out to arrest about a dozen supposed disloyalists, in 
various parts of Medina County. Two days we were on 
this hateful duty, during which we arrested about ten 
unfortunate wretches and took them into San Antonio, 
where the rest of our party had already arrived. 

Three days we rested there, and then set off to rejoin 
the company, which presently we found had marched 
away from Friedricksburg and was meandering about 
the State, doing goodness knows what — certainly no 
earthly good. We found it at a place called Blanco, 
whence we all marched back to San Antonio and went 
into camp again, after three weeks' absence on this war- 
like expedition, during which all we had done was to 
bully a few inoffensive Germans. 

Next, on June 26, five of us were started off to 
catch seven armed niggers, supposed to be driving stolen 
horses into Mexico, and who had last been seen about 



FOOLS' ERRANDS 233 

twenty-five miles from camp. I knew the thing was a 
humbug, but orders had to be obeyed. Three days we 
followed that will-o'-the-wisp, and then discovered the 
seven niggers had dwindled to two, and they were driving 
their master's horses ! 

In the early days of July a man came into camp and 
reported he had seen tracks of some shod mules near 
the Frio River, leading in the direction of the Rio Grande, 
and that he had been told by some old donkey, on a 
ranch near by, that he often saw tracks he couldn't 
account for. Our sapient commandant at once jumped 
to the conclusion that secret communication, and of 
course treasonable, was going on with Mexico. I told 
him the Presidio road, to which the tracks pointed, was 
the last one a spy would use ; but he wouldn't listen, 
and five of us, including myself, were dispatched at a 
moment's notice on another fool's errand. Eight days' 
hard riding we had on this little trip, in pouring rain 
most of the time, during which we covered some two 
hundred miles — of course, all for naught ! The night 
we returned to camp, pretty well done up, and our 
horses dead beaten, we were warned to be in readiness 
for a review of all the troops in camp by General 
Herbert, in command of the district, who was to inspect 
us next day. 

At 4 p.m. then we were all formed up in the Alamo 
Plaza in San Antonio, the force comprising four 
infantry companies and two of Partizan Rangers. 
The infantry were rather a mixed-loojdng lot, dressed 
in all sorts and varieties of uniforms, or none at all. 
The Rangers, though in much the same plight as to 
uniforms, were really a fine, soldierly lot of men, for the 
most part mounted on good horses. There were some 
queer specimens of humanity on parade that day, but 
the queerest of all was our own Commander, who on 
foot resembled a bullfrog, and on horseback Sancho 
Panza. 



234 ON THE BUSHWHACKERS' TRACK 

We formed up in double line, cavalry in front, and 
in the middle of the Plaza a wheezy civilian brass band 
discoursed such music as it could. Then presently 
appeared our gallant General, surrounded by a hetero- 
geneous staff, as ignorant and pretentious as himself, 
and followed by a small boy on a diminutive cow-pony, 
who acted as his orderly. The chief duty of the staff, 
aided by the small boy, seemed to be to keep back a 
crowd of about three hundred people, who lined the 
square and wanted to fraternise with their friends in the 
ranks whilst the performance was going on ! This was 
soon over, for when the General had ridden down the 
ranks, looking as wise as he knew how, we marched past 
him once, with some difficulty, and then were dismissed. 
The whole thing was a farce, and I was thoroughly 
disgusted with the humbug of it ; for the so- 
called General knew no more about soldiering than 
his boy orderly, and indeed was a storekeeper who 
probably had never seen a shot fired in anger in his 
life, but had been promoted by some back-door in- 
fluence. 

At this time the remnants of Sibley's Texan Brigade 
began to straggle back from New Mexico in woful plight. 
It was in the end of October in the previous year that it 
had marched out, three thousand strong, the flower of 
Texan youth, with high hopes of victory ; and now it 
was a broken, disorganised rabble, ragged and half 
starved. The horses had nearly all died, and such of 
the men as returned had tramped hundreds of miles 
with scarce a whole boot amongst them. The whole 
business had been shamefully mismanaged by General 
Sibley, who was absolutely incompetent, and yet was 
entrusted with a command like this ! 

Perhaps the most astonishing thing in the whole affair 
was that Sibley was not brought to a court-martial, 
but, on the contrary, was promoted, and held in 
high honour by the rascals who ruled us in Texas. 



OUR PROVOST-MARSHAL 235 

Small wonder that the Confederate cause fared so ill in 
the Southern and Western States, with such people at 
its head ! 

On July 19 the two companies of Partizan Rangers, 
our own under Dunn and the other under Captain 
Freer, marched out once more for Friedricksburg, in 
the vicinity of which it was reported that 1,500 
" Bushwhackers," mostly Germans, had taken to the 
mountains, and were plundering and burning the ranches 
of the Southern loyalists. Furthermore, they were said 
to be well armed, and intended fighting their way 
northwards to join the Federal forces. Those who, like 
myself, knew the country and the people, didn't believe 
one-tenth part of this yarn, but our leaders swallowed it 
whole, or professed to, and made great preparations to 
put down this formidable insurrection. 

Amongst other steps to this end, our redoubtable 
Captain Dunn was appointed Provost-Marshal, with full 
powers to deal with the rebels. These, the sequel will 
show, he exercised to their fullest extent, committing 
atrocities that even his superiors in San Antonio would 
not have sanctioned. 

We marched by easy stages to Friedricksburg, and 
there found most of the inhabitants remaining quietly 
in their homes, though a certain number of misguided 
men had taken to the mountains, en route to join one 
of the Federal armies. Their numbers were variously 
estimated, but, as far as I could make out, they did not 
exceed a couple of hundred. 

The morning after our arrival we marched out fifteen 
miles to the west of the town and pitched camp on a 
stream called the Pedernalio, with the intention of re- 
maining there about six weeks. Here Captain Dunn 
issued his proclamation announcing his appointment 
as Provost-Marshal, and giving the inhabitants three 
days to come in and take the oath of allegiance to the 
Confederacy ; threatening to treat all those who failed 



236 ON THE BUSHWHACKERS' TRACK 

to do so as traitors, who would be dealt with summarily 
at the discretion of the officer commanding. 

Meanwhile we remained in camp enjoying the rest 
and the beautiful scenery. The spot we had chosen was 
an ideal one : a gentle slope, dotted with majestic live- 
oak trees, and at the foot a clear running stream of 
coolest water, abounding in fish. Under a great rock, 
half-way up the slope, gushed forth a spring of delicious 
water, which went singing on its downward course to 
the river. From the summit of the rising ground the 
eye could range, in that clear atmosphere, over miles 
and miles of rolling prairie, green with lush grass 
after the rains, and dotted with clumps of timber, 
like some vast park in the old country ; a veritable 
paradise of Nature's own making, " where only man was 
vile " — and pretty vile too some of us were ! Mightily 
we enjoyed ourselves for a time, for the weather was 
beautiful, and fish and game of all sorts abundant. 

Presently, however, sinister rumours as to Dunn's 
intentions began to spread, and it was said, amongst 
other things, that he had given certain of his followers 
to understand that he wanted no prisoners brought into 
camp. The majority of the men, especially those who 
were Southern born, were utterly opposed to such deeds ; 
and many of us, myself amongst the number, openly 
declared we would do all in our power to put a stop 
to them. But amongst the command there were many 
" whitewashed " Yankees, and even, I am ashamed to 
say, some Scotsmen, who were ready tools for Dunn's 
infamies, and believed in converting Union men to the 
true faith by means of the halter. 

I soon noticed that neither I, nor any of those who 
thought with me, were sent out on scout. It was very 
suspicious, as presently many parties were detailed to 
scour the country who rarely, if ever, brought in any 
prisoners, and were very reticent about their doings. 
Amongst these, two parties of twenty-five each were 



A PITIABLE SIGHT 237 

sent out with wagons to bring in from the scattered 
ranches the wives and children of those who had taken 
to the mountains, and, I fear, to harry their homes. In 
four days they returned with the wagons full of prisoners — 
four or five men, and eight women with their little ones. 
The latter were sent on to Friedricksburg, and the former 
confined in the guard tent. 

It was a pitiable sight to see all these poor folks stripped 
of their property, such as it was, earned by hard toil 
and exposure on a dangerous frontier ; and I could not 
but contrast their treatment with that of well-known 
Abolitionists in San Antonio, who, because they were 
wealthy, and made friends of the mammon of unrighteous- 
ness, were not only unmolested but specially favoured 
in all sorts of ways. Many of these were German Jews, 
who did nothing for the South, but monopolised trade, 
and got all the contracts for supplies given them by the 
military authorities, with whom they shared the plunder 
of the unfortunate soldiers. 

These prisoners, I afterwards learned, had been in- 
formed against by a Dutch tavern-keeper in Friedricks- 
burg who was often out in camp drinking with Dunn, 
and who had private spites against most of them, which 
he took good care to pay off. 

I forgot to mention that very few of the outlying 
settlers came in to take the oath before the expiration 
of the three days ; probably because they were more 
occupied with procuring a living, and protecting their 
families from Indian raids, than with politics. Possibly, 
too, many of them never heard of Dunn and his pro- 
clamation until they were arrested. 

The day after the return of the wagons, one hundred 
of us, of whom twenty belonged to my company, were 
warned to prepare seven days' rations and to go on a 
scout into the mountains to find and attack the Bush- 
whackers' camp. One of the prisoners, an old soldier, 
and a friend of Dunn's, had been released, and he was 



238 ON THE BUSHWHACKERS' TRACK 

to act as our guide and betray his friends, if possible, 
into our hands. 

We all set off in high spirits, for we had soon tired of 
inaction, and here was a chance of a fight against men 
who really were in arms against our country, and were 
well armed too. This, at any rate, was better work 
than harrying harmless, defenceless people, whose only 
desire was to be let alone to earn their bread in 
peace. 

The first day's ride took us over a rather rough prairie 
country, in which we passed several small homesteads, 
ruined and deserted. At sundown we reached what had 
been a well-cultivated little farm, situated in a pretty, 
well- watered valley. The owner, a Northern man named 
Henderson, had gone to the mountains, but his wife, 
also from the North, had been brought into camp with 
her numerous children. I had felt very sorry for her 
then, for she bore her misfortunes with a quiet dignity 
that was very touching ; but when I saw her desolated 
home, and how, in that out-of-the-way place, they had 
made so prosperous a little settlement, all now wasted 
and destroyed, it was most grievous. 

They had fenced and cultivated about twenty acres 
of good land on the side of the valley, cleverly irrigated 
by the stream running through it. Now the crops were 
trampled and destroyed, and not a living thing was to 
be seen on the place ; even the bee-hives in front of the 
comfortable log house were overturned and empty. 
The poor little furniture in the living-room, and the loom 
in the kitchen, had been smashed ; and all this had been 
done by some of our marauding parties by our Captain's 
orders. It made one utterly ashamed to be serving with 
such men ; but there was no help for it now ! 

The following day we struck the Guadaloupe River, 
and, travelling up its course, soon passed beyond the 
region of settlements. The stream itself was most 
beautiful, running clear and strong over a rocky bottom 



THE GERMANS' CAMP 239 

and between high cliffs crowned with giant cypress-trees. 
Here and there it would open out into cool, shady pools, 
just deep enough for a delightful swim. By one such as 
this we made our noonday halt, and soon were cooling 
our fevered skins in such a bath as made full amends for 
the burning heat of the morning's ride. Then on again, 
still following the river, over ground rising more and 
more, and growing more difficult for the wagon to 
follow us over. 

The next day we left the main stream of the Guadaloupe 
and struck across to its southern branch. There, about 
midday, we found a deserted camp of the men we were 
after. It was admirably situated in the midst of cedar- 
brakes, and had been left perhaps four or five days be- 
fore, after being occupied for qurte a month. 

These Germans apparently meant business, for they 
had cut rude human figures on the trunks of some of 
the big trees, and had used them for targets for their 
rifle practice. From their " sign " I reckoned there 
were about 160 of them, and the event proved I was not 
far wrong. 

The trail led about west, towards the Rio Grande, 
and it was evident from this direction, and from the 
start they had, that our scout would be a long one. So 
we concluded to halt where we were till next day, to 
rest our horses, and fix up bread and coffee enough for 
three days ; for the wagon could follow us no farther 
over the rough country we had reached. Soon we were 
busy enough, baking bread and " parching " coffee ; and 
that finished, all of us, except the guard, and two energetic 
souls who went out hunting, were soon stretched out 
on the soft grass, under the canopied shade of the great 
trees, enjoying an unwonted siesta. Towards evening 
the hunters returned with a small bear they had killed, 
so they said ; but it was so miserably poor as to be 
uneatable, and they were very riled at being told they 
must have found it dead of starvation ! 



240 ON THEJ.BUSHWHACKERS' TRACK 

Our party was divided into messes of five each, and our 
scanty provisions of bread, bacon, sugar and coffee were 
carried in turn by each of the members in a sack swung 
across the cantle of the saddle. The first turn at this 
was taken by one Billy Mac, of which more anon. 

The morning's ride led us over a tremendously rough 
and hilly country, and we could only follow the trail in 
Indian file, till we struck the head of the Medina River. 
Here the country became rough, rolling prairie studded 
with timber, and we pushed on along the wide trail at a 
smart pace, till we called a short halt at midday. Then 
it was discovered that a dire misfortune had overtaken 
our mess, for the miserable Billy had dropped the whole 
outfit ! The villain had found out the loss in time to 
have gone back for the bag but was afraid to do so, and 
so held his tongue. We five unfortunates were in a pretty 
plight now, for all we had amongst us was a couple of 
loaves of bread and a lump of bacon, and our comrades 
had only barely enough for themselves. The language 
addressed to the culprit will not bear repetition. Though 
naturally forcible, it only relieved our feelings, but did 
nothing for our hunger. 

Now as we rode along that afternoon, another trail 
came into the one we were following, showing the Bush- 
whackers had been reinforced by another party. 

It was, for the most part, desperate country to ride 
over, for we were well in the mountains, and frequently 
had to dismount and lead our horses down rocky slides. 
Towards evening the trail led us to a large water-hole 
on the head of the Frio River ; perhaps the only one to 
be found for many miles of its course, which showed the 
enemy had good guides. Here we watered our thirsty 
horses and filled our canteens and, after a brief rest, 
pushed on again. We were nearing the Rio Grande, 
and if we were to catch the Germans we must keep on 
without pause. The full moon rose gloriously, and by 
her light we rode, and clambered, and slid till midnight, 



WILL THEY FIGHT OR RUN? 241 

when we camped for a brief rest on a rough and narrow 
plateau, where there was a little grass for the horses 
but no water. From the elevation on which we stood 
we could see that the whole country to the south-west 
was on fire. It was a magnificent sight, probably caused 
by the Indians firing the dry cedar-brakes, which burnt 
like pitch-pine. 

That night again all the talk, till sleep claimed us, was 
of the prospects of a fight. Would the Germans stand or 
run ? My own idea was that they would get over into 
Mexico if they could, but if caught would fight des- 
perately. They had, no doubt, heard of the character 
and the doings of our commander, and would sell their 
lives dearly rather than fall into his hands. Moreover, 
most of them were old frontiersmen and good marksmen. 
But what they actually did must be told in the next 
chapter. 



16 



CHAPTER II 

THE FIGHT — AND AFTER 

Before sun-up next morning we were in the saddle again, 
and about ten o'clock struek the eastern branch of the 
Nueces River, where, there being good water and grass, 
we halted for breakfast and to graze our horses. Thanks 
to Mr. Billy, my breakfast consisted of a few mouthfuls 
of bread, and nothing but water to wash it down ! But 
there was a good feed for our horses, who wanted it 
badly. What tough, good animals these Texan horses 
are, mostly of the old Spanish stock ! They had had a 
rare rough journey over that terrible country, but, so 
far, none had knocked up. My own, which was one of 
the best little animals I ever rode, was a bit tucked up, 
but as game as ever. 

We were traversing the eastern watershed of the 
mountains bordering the Rio Grande and the Mexican 
frontier, in which all the streams of Western Texas, such 
as the Pecos, Medina, Nueces, and Frio, take their rise. 
Most of these, high up near their sources, run dry except 
in the heavy rains, or at best give only a scanty supply 
of water in pools, and at long intervals. But fortunately 
the Nueces was an exception, for we found it running 
strongly, though only a few inches deep, between cliffs 
a hundred feet high, and over a bed of solid rock of 
about the same number of feet in width. On this the 
trail was easy enough to follow, for the Germans' horses 
were all shod, and had left white marks on the rocks. 

The rocks above our heads were rich with untold 



A STRAGGLING PARTY 243 

wealth of honey, and the river full of fish, but we could 
not pause to take toll of either. 

The fugitives were not far ahead of us now, for at two 
o'clock, close to another of the branches of the Nueces, 
we came on their camp in which they had slept the 
previous night. The fires were still smouldering, and great 
chunks of half -cooked beef were lying about. It was 
pretty plain they did not know they were being followed, 
or surely they would have waylaid us in one or other 
of the narrow defiles in the river. There, from under 
cover of the cypress growth on the edge of the cliffs, 
they could have shot us down at their ease, and not one 
of us could possibly have escaped to tell the tale. 

They were evidently lulled into false security, for 
they were not hurrying their flight, nor had they any 
rear guard out to cover their retreat. That being so, 
near as they were to the frontier, we made sure of catching 
them before they could cross, and probably that very 
night. We pushed on, the country getting worse and 
worse, and we generally on foot, as it was impossible 
to ride, till the light failed us, and then halted for the 
night. There was some talk of marching again when 
the moon rose, but both men and horses were too done 
for that, and we had to rest till morning. There was 
no water for any of us, and for our unfortunate mess no 
food, except a lump of raw bacon. 

Famishing and parched with thirst, we struggled to 
the top of the dividing ridge of the watershed next 
morning, and then led our horses down the most pre- 
cipitous descent ever attempted by mounted men. 
Wonderful to say, the horses all got down without serious 
mishap; but before we had negotiated the worst of it, 
we were spread out in a straggling line nearly three 
miles in length. Again, if the Bushwhackers had only 
known it, what a chance they had to cut us up ! 

At midday we struck a water-hole on some stream, 
which held a little muddy, evil-smelling liquid, but a 



244 THE FIGHT— AND AFTER 

perfect godsend to both men and horses. Then we five 
miserables boiled our lump of bacon, and drank the soup ; 
the only food we had tasted since the previous morning. 

Round this water-hole the " sign " of the fugitives 
was quite fresh, and we followed on the trail with all due 
precaution, keeping scouts out ahead, lest we should 
stumble on them unawares. We had only ridden on 
about two miles from this spot when our scouts came 
hastening back to report that our long stern chase was 
at an end. They had found the camp of the Bush- 
whackers about three miles away, on a small prairie 
surrounded by cedar-brakes, on the other side of the 
western branch of the Nueces. The prairie, on our side 
of the stream, ran up in steep rocky cliffs, and from the 
top of these the scouts had overlooked the camp. 

The enemy were supposed to be about 150 in number, 
and they had two hundred horses grazing on the prairie 
round their camp. From the fact that they had no scouts 
out, and their general carelessness, it was evident they 
hadn't the slightest suspicion they were being followed. 

There were three officers with us, a man named Cole 
McCree, a lieutenant in Davis's company of Partizan 
Rangers, being in command of the whole party, with 
Lieutenant Harbour of the same company, a rough but 
good sort of fellow and a "number one " Indian fighter, 
under him. A Lieutenant Luck was in command of our 
detachment of twenty, and in view of the crime so soon 
to be committed, in which he took a leading part, it 
may be well to give his antecedents. 

A Yankee by birth, and an entirely uneducated and 
ignorant man, he was a horse-dealer and livery-stable 
keeper in San Antonio, with a reputation for sharpness 
in trading which, to say the least of it, would compare 
favourably with that of most of his kidney. In fact, he 
was an unscrupulous rascal who would cheat his own 
father — if he could. Till some time after Secession he 
was a strong Union man, but when the Confederacy 



A NIGHT ATTACK 245 

seemed likely to come out on top, he became the hottest 
of hot Secessionists. By Dunn's influence he was elected 
junior lieutenant in our company ; but not by my vote, 
for I never thought him fit for even 4th Corporal. 

We then, being halted on the return of the scouts, 
these three went forward to reconnoitre the position 
before forming the plan of attack. In about an hour 
they came back, and orders were issued for a night 
attack, to be delivered just after midnight. Then we 
moved about a quarter of a mile up a ravine running 
at right angles to the river, where we were securely 
hidden, and there off-saddled, and spread our blankets 
to await the coming fight with what patience we 
might. 

I may say we were all pretty confident of whipping 
the Germans, and the general idea seemed to be that 
they would show but little fight. I thought, as I said 
before, that we had a pretty tough job before us, unless 
we could effect a complete surprise of the camp, and that, 
with undisciplined troops and incompetent leaders, was 
not very likely. However we were to put the question 
to the test of experience very soon, and in the meantime 
there was nothing to be done but to rest and be thankful 
for that blessing. 

About eleven o'clock my comrade and I were roused 
out of a sound nap to find the whole party falling in. 
Arms were carefully inspected, hats were discarded, and 
a white handkerchief tied round our heads ; then leaving 
our horses under a small guard, for the attack was to be 
made on foot, we marched off in single file, by the light 
of an overclouded moon, over breakneck rocks and 
down the steepest slides. Silence had of course been 
strictly enjoined, and for their own sakes was kept by 
all, so that, as we slowly crept up and down those dreadful 
rocks, not a whisper was heard, not a sound was audible 
save the tramp of feet or the noise of a falling stone. 
Into the bed of the stream we slid, one by one, down the 



246 THE FIGHT— AND AFTER 

steepest declivity of all. It was only knee-deep, running 
strong and clear, with great boulders scattered every- 
where. Though no word was spoken, one could see the 
intense excitement of the men as they paused for a 
hurried drink of water, and clutched their rifles and 
crept stealthily on again. 

Our detachment led up the stony slope that would 
land us on the little prairie where was the camp ; and 
our orders were to wheel to the right on the top, creep 
through the cedar-brakes, and line up on the far side of 
the camp. The rest of the party, marching straight to 
the front, would form line on the near side of the camp. 
The enemy's pickets were to be captured without noise 
and, the camp not being disturbed, the whole force was 
to wait till daybreak came, and at the sound of a signal 
shot from McCree's pistol, charge right in. 

It was beautiful in theory, but how the man could 
have expected us to carry it out successfully in practice, 
I don't know ! Of course there was a frightful muddle, 
as we shall see ; all orders and pre-arrangements were 
forgotten, and confusion reigned supreme directly the 
first shot was fired. We managed our part of the business 
very well, and crept through the brakes, to within about 
300 yards of the camp, without in any way alarming the 
enemy or seeing any outpost. Then we halted in dead 
silence. Hardly had we done so when a rifle shot, coming 
from the far side, rang out in the stillness of the night. 
Some idiot, over-excited, had loosed off at a sentry, and 
instantly the camp was in a buzz, like a swarm of bees. 
Men ran hither and thither in great confusion, and if 
what had happened had been foreseen, and orders given 
to charge at once, no doubt we could have carried the 
camp with little loss. But no one knew what to doy and 
we on our side lay low, waiting for developments. Pre- 
sently the Germans, having recovered from their surprise 
and got their arms, fired a volley at our comrades on 
the far side, but without much execution in the darkness 



DESULTORY FIRING 247 

of the night. This was replied to by our people, and 
the firing became general on their side. 

So far we hadn't fired a shot, and our presence was 
unsuspected ; but now two of their picket-guards came 
running in a few yards in front of our position, driving some 
horses before them. One shot was fired without effect ; 
three more followed, and a heavy thud told that one at any 
rate was killed. One of our party ran out and brought in 
the dead man's arms, a Colt's six-shooter and a Jager rifle. 

From where we lay to the cedar-brake round the mott, 
or clump of timber, was about fifty yards of open ground, 
and we were now ordered to double across this inde- 
pendently, and then find what cover we could. In the 
darkness, made more intense by the shadows of the great 
trees, all got across safely and, taking cover at varying 
distances from the camp, opened fire on its defenders. 
Some of the men blazed away in great excitement, and 
didn't do much execution, but suffered some loss through 
foolishly exposing themselves ; one of our party getting 
a bullet through his arm and one through each thigh. 

The defenders still showed a bold front, and dared 
us to come on. They even threatened to charge out on 
McCree's party, some of whom were inclined to bolt, 
but were promptly rallied by Harbour. 

On our side the bullets were whistling pretty thickly 
over the heads of six or seven of us who were fighting 
together, and from our then position it was difficult to 
return the fire with much effect. Very cautiously then, 
now crawling, now dodging behind trees, I worked my 
way up to the edge of the mott in which the camp stood, 
followed by my comrades. There for a brief space we 
kept up a galling fire on the defenders, but when four of 
our party had dropped, one with a bullet through his 
head, and the others severely wounded, we, the three 
survivors, had to retire the way we came. 

The defenders by this time had lost very heavily, and 
began to make off in small parties through the thick brush. 



248 THE FIGHT— AND AFTER 

From our side a few of us pursued one of these, but soon 
lost them, and when we got back the camp had been taken, 
with a loss on our side of twelve killed and eight wounded. 

The defenders suffered very severely in comparison 
with ourselves, fighting as they did in close formation 
in the centre of their camp, while we were more or less 
behind cover. In the narrow space inside the mott 
lay sixty dead and twenty wounded. One poor creature, 
with yet a little life in him, but unable to move, lay 
across the camp fire. Pulling him back, I put out the fire, 
but death mercifully put an end to his sufferings in a 
few minutes. The scene was a ghastly one, and for a 
time there was plenty to do separating the wounded from 
the dead and dressing the hurts of the former as best 
we could, for we had no surgeon with us. 

Seeing there were plenty of willing helpers for our 
own poor fellows, some of the more humane of us did 
what we could to ease the sufferings of the wounded 
Germans. They had fought a good fight, and bore them- 
selves so pluckily I felt sorry I had taken my part 
against them. We bound up their wounds, and gave 
them water, and laid them as comfortably as we could 
in the shade. Poor creatures, how grateful they were ! 

By this time some of the boys had cooked breakfast, 
for there was an abundance of provisions in the camp, 
and I fell to with them, with an appetite, having 
tasted nothing, except the bacon soup, for two days. 
Hunger appeased, I went down to the creek hard by 
to see if any poor wounded creature had crawled there 
and needed assistance. I did not find any, but happened 
on a cool spring bursting out below a great tree-shaded 
rock, and sat me down to rest a few moments. 

It was Sunday morning, and my thoughts turned to 
a far-away country church, where presently a simple 
service would be held, and those so dear to me would 
be worshipping. What a contrast to the scene of blood- 
shed and evil passions I had just left ! 



MURDEROUS WORK 249 

But not for long could I indulge in daydreams, for 
there was plenty of work to be done. The wounded had 
to be attended to again, and then the numerous horses 
belonging to the Germans had to be gathered. There were 
about 200 of these grazing about in all directions, some 
of them badly wounded by stray shots during the fight. 

By four o'clock we had got them all together, and 
put the worst of the injured ones out of their misery. 

Then I hurried over to where we had left the German 
wounded to see how they were getting on, and was 
surprised to find them gone. Asking what had become 
of them, I was told they had been moved to better shade 
a short distance away. With this answer I was quite 
satisfied, and never dreamed the brutes with whom I 
served would be guilty of foul play, especially after the 
gallant fight the enemy had made. 

Just then one of our own wounded called for water, 
and I brought him some from the cool spring. As I was 
giving it to him, the sound of firing was heard a little 
way off. I thought at first they were burying some of 
the dead with the honours of war ; but it didn't sound 
like that either. Then, possibly it might be an attack 
on the camp ; so I seized my rifle, and ran in the direction 
of the firing. Presently I met a man coming from it 
who, when he saw me running, said, " You needn't be 
in a hurry, it's all done ; they've shot the poor devils, 
and finished them off." 

" It can't possibly be they have murdered the prisoners 
in cold blood ! " I said, not believing that even Luck 
would be guilty of such an atrocious crime. " Oh, yes ; 
they're all dead, sure enough — and a good job too ! " 
Feeling sick at heart, though I hardly even then credited 
his report, I ran on, and found it only too true. 

It seems they were asked if they wouldn't like to be 
moved a little way off into better shade. The poor 
creatures willingly agreed, thanking their murderers 
for their kindness. They were carried away, but it was 



250 THE FIGHT—AND AFTER 

to the shade and shadow of death, for a party of cowardly 
wretches went over and shot them in cold blood. 

This was Mr. Luck's work — the remorseless, treacherous 
villain ! And I vowed to be even with him for it, if ever 
I got the chance. Meanwhile I denounced the bloody 
deed in as strong language as I could use, telling the 
perpetrator, to his face, what he was, and what every 
decent, honourable man would think of him as long as he 
lived. He handled his six-shooter, and looked as though 
he would like to use it on me ; but the coward was afraid 
to shoot at a live man, as I told him. Fortunately 
some of my own comrades backed me up, or I have no 
doubt it would have gone hard with me ; as it was, the 
scoundrel played me a scurvy trick, and gave me the 
most awful day's work I ever did in my life. 

I brooded all the rest of that shameful day on the 
best course to pursue : there was no hope of bringing 
the murderers to justice, for I felt sure Dunn would up- 
hold them, and that General Wasp would support him. 
My only chance then was to get out of the company, 
or to attain such a position in it as would enable me 
to stop such deeds. 

In justice to Cole McCree, who was a brave and kindly 
man, I should mention that he was severely wounded 
in the fight, and had no knowledge of the crime committed 
by Luck and his friends. The latter's chief motive, I 
believe, was to prove his zeal and devotion to the Southern 
cause, and by these base murders make himself popular 
with the authorities in San Antonio. What their char- 
acter was, I have already described, and Luck's idea of 
how to please them confirms all I have said about them. 

Immediately after the fight a couple of the boys were 
sent off, post haste, to Fort Clark, supposed to be some 
thirty miles distant, to fetch the surgeon stationed there. 
Till midnight I was off duty, but after that had to help 
tend the wounded, some of whom were in great pain ; and 
we had no appliances with which to treat them, nothing 



LITTER-BEARERS 251 

much to give them except cold water. I always remember, 
to the credit of poor humanity, how patiently they bore 
their terrible sufferings. \ 

It was quite necessary, for the sake of the wounded, 
and for sanitary reasons, that we should move out of 
camp as soon as possible. Our own dead were buried 
in one long trench, but those of the enemy were carried 
to where the murdered prisoners lay, and there left for 
a prey to the buzzards and coyotes. 

So the day after the fight we were all busy, making 
litters for the wounded, packing arms, ammunition, 
etc., captured in the camp, ready for transport, it 
being arranged we should set out for Fort Clark at day- 
break next morning. My comrade Oje and I suggested 
using horse-litters, which we knew all about. But Luck 
wouldn't listen to this ; nothing would suit him but 
hand-litters. He had no doubt laid his plans to pay 
out myself and the comrades who had stood by me in 
the row, though we had no suspicion of the abominable 
trick he was going to play us, more especially as he loudly 
declared he would take his turn at the bearer work with 
the rest of us. 

That night the doctor arrived, and was promptly at 
work ; but several of the cases were very serious, and 
would not, he said, live to see the fort. 

Betimes next morning, the litters, of long cedar poles 
with blankets laced to them, were ready with their sad 
loads, and the horses packed with the plunder. Four 
bearers were allotted to each litter, or thirty-two in all ; 
sixteen of whom, being all that were fit for duty, were 
taken from our detachment. The mounted men marched 
ahead with the guide, carrying our rifles, water-kegs, 
blankets, and everything except water-canteens that we 
took for the immediate use of the sick. The first stage was 
to be about five miles ; there the mounted party were 
to halt till we came up, and we were to be relieved by 
fresh bearers. Louis Oje and I, with two other men, 



252 THE FIGHT— AND AFTER 

carried our comrade and friend Mont Woodward, who 
was desperately wounded. 

Wagons and ambulances had been sent out from the 
fort to meet us, or rather would be so sent, as the nature 
of the country wouldn't let them go much more than 
five or six miles in our direction. 

Hardly had we started when one of the horses, loaded 
with rifles not very securely packed, got scared, or 
didn't like his load, and away he went, kicking and 
plunging and followed by three others. Down the 
steep hillside and through the thick brush they went, 
shedding rifles at every stride ; and may be going still 
for aught I know, for we never saw them again, nor the 
forty rifles they carried between them. 

Soon the mounted men disappeared down the trail 
ahead of us, and we plodded on, consoling ourselves with 
the thought that, though the load was heavy and galled 
our shoulders badly, we should get a rest and plenty of 
water at the end of five miles. The sun was terribly 
hot, but we kept on, with occasional short rests to give 
the sufferers water to quench their burning thirst. For 
ourselves, as I have said, there was none. 

For nearly three hours we tramped, and climbed, and 
slid over that awful country, before it dawned on us we 
were deserted by that scoundrel Luck and the rest of the 
party. When it did so dawn at last, many of the men 
threw themselves on the ground, and declared they could 
not, and would not, go any farther. We certainly were 
in a dreadful plight, but what was ours compared with 
that of the unfortunate men in the litters ? It was plain 
we were sold, and would have to carry our burdens, 
through that dreadful heat, perhaps fifteen, perhaps 
twenty miles, without a drop of water. But for the sake 
of our suffering comrades we must go through with it — 
if we could. The doctor, who was with us and behaved 
like a man, taking his turn at the litters, backed by some 
of us, at last got the men going again. 



AN AWFUL JOURNEY 253 

Oj6 and the three others of us picked up our litter and 
started, and the rest soon followed, the doctor bringing 
up the rear, to see that none lingered behind. To add 
to our troubles, and they were bad enough, we were in a 
dangerous Indian country, and had no arms with us, not 
even a six-shooter ! 

Our own poor comrade Woodward was past utterance, 
for he was at the point of death, but the groans of some 
of the other poor creatures were piteous to hear. 

To cut a long story short, we staggered on till near 
sundown, when we came out on a high rolling prairie 
on which we saw traces of wheel-marks — joyful signs in- 
deed that we really were on the road to the fort, for till 
then we had not been sure we were right. On the prairie 
were plenty of nopals, or prickly pears, with ripe fruit on 
them ; and how good the juice was to our cracked lips 
and parched throats ! Just after sunset, painfully 
stumbling along with our weary burdens, we saw two 
wagons and two ambulances coming over the prairie. 
Was ever sight more delightful to longing eyes ? In one 
of the former was a plentiful supply of water, and I don't 
think any I ever tasted seemed so good as that. 

Soon we had the wounded stowed in the ambulances, 
and ourselves, as best we could, in the wagons. We 
were five miles from the fort, and had come, they told 
us, a good thirty from the scene of the fight. It was 
the most awful journey I ever made. My shoulders were 
cut to the bone by the litter-poles, my feet were bleeding 
from the sharp rocks, and I was utterly broken down, as 
indeed were all of us, including the doctor, though he, 
good fellow that he was, still had pluck and strength 
enough to attend to his charges directly we reached 
the fort. 

By-the-bye, Luck's excuse for leaving us in the lurch 
was that, when he left the bearer party, he had gone in 
search of water, and lost his way. It was too thin, and 
no one believed it. 



CHAPTER III 

A RIDE FOR LIFE 

It was nearly ten o'clock at night when we reached Fort 
Clark, and found supper ready for us in our camp under 
some beautiful mulberry-trees hard by the creek. But 
I was too sick and done up to do more than drink a little 
coffee, and scarce could crawl about or eat for two 
days. Next morning I did manage to get up to the 
hospital to see how the wounded were. It was an airy, 
commodious building, and the good doctor was doing all 
he could for his poor patients ; but most of them were in 
a very bad way, and eventually five, out of the eight we 
had carried so far, died in hospital. The only wonder is 
that any of them survived the terrible hardships of that 
journey. 

My own poor comrade, Woodward, was still uncon- 
scious, and evidently slowly passing away. He died that 
night, happily without further pain. He was the only 
son of his mother, and she was a widow. How should I 
break the awful news to her ? This I had to do, when I 
got back to San Antonio, and I dreaded the ordeal more 
than I can tell. But it had to be done. 

Fort Clark had been built about six years before by the 
U.S. Government, and was capable of accommodating 
four companies of troops. It was situated at the head 
of the Los Moros, a small stream which runs into the 
Rio Grande some thirty miles to the south. 

The country round was rolling and open for the most 
part, but here and there was a good deal of brush, in 

254 



THE FRIO CROSSING 255 

which deer, bear, and turkeys abounded and, as the river 
was full of trout, it was a sportsman's paradise. Settlers 
there were scarce any in those days, and they only cattle- 
raisers ; but as the valley of the Los Moros was very 
rich, and easily irrigable, I daresay it is all under cultiva- 
tion now. 

For a week we rested in the fort, and then, the day 
before the command started to return to San Antonio, 
Loo Oje and myself got leave to ride across to the Frio, 
to visit our ranches, before rejoining at headquarters. As 
Indians were in the country, we rode very cautiously, and 
camped at night east of the Nueces River, away from 
water and without making a fire. Next morning, pretty 
early, we reached Uvalde, a small village, where we got 
our horses watered and fed, and our own wants supplied. 
There we learned that close to where we had to cross the 
Frio, a bunch of Indians had camped, and killed a cow, 
and that farther up, on a small creek, they had killed and 
mutilated two settlers who lived at the head of the Frio. 
It was supposed, though no one knew for certain, that the 
Indians had surprised these unfortunates in their camp 
before daybreak, and killed them as they slept. All this 
made us even more cautious, and didn't seem to add 
much to the pleasure of our ride across the prairies. 
However, we jogged on, keeping a bright look-out for 
Indian "sign." At about four o'clock in the evening we 
were close to the crossing of the Frio, when we were aware 
of a number of buzzards hovering over the opposite bank 
of the river ; but as we knew the Indians had recently 
killed a cow there, thought they were after that, or rather, 
what remained of it. So we rode down the steep bank 
of the river to water our horses, and then dismounted, 
to climb the opposite one. I was leading, and as I neared 
the top of the bank, saw a line stretched, with beef drying 
on it, and horses picketed on the edge of the brush. In- 
stantly I turned about, as did Oje, and we reached the 
bed of the river, apparently unseen. 



256 A BIDE FOB LIFE 

There we looked to our arms, and, after a whispered 
consultation, agreed to ride some three or four hundred 
yards up stream, climb the bank, and reconnoitre the 
Indian camp on horseback. This may seem foolhardy, 
but our horses were fast and fresh, and there wasn't much 
fear of the red devils catching us, if it came to riding. We 
climbed the bank all right, then mounted, and turning 
back to our left, rode very cautiously through the brush, 
which there was rather thin, and not very wide. Pre- 
sently we saw, about a hundred yards ahead of us, two 
Indians, apparently busy cooking at the camp fire. They 
seemed not to see us, or at any rate took no notice of our 
presence ; but as we didn't know how many there might 
be about, we thought it wisest not to alarm them, and 
so turned sharp to our right, to get out of the brush, on 
to the open prairie. 

Just as we emerged on to the grass, seven Comanches 
burst out of the chaparral, about three hundred yards 
from us, yelling like demons, and brandishing their spears, 
as they galloped down on us on their bare-backed ponies. 
We " stood not on the order of our going," you may be 
sure, but stuck spurs into our horses, and went off as 
fast as they could lay legs to ground. 

The Indians had burst out on us at full gallop, and 
before our horses could get well into their stride the 
devils were not much more than a hundred yards behind 
us. Too near to be pleasant ; for, now they began to loose 
off their arrows at us, but, what with the pace we were all 
going, and the distance, didn't touch us. 

By this time I knew we had the legs of them, and that, 
barring accidents to our horses, we could ride clean away 
from them. So we got our revolvers out, and easing 
down a bit, let them overhaul us, till they were perhaps 
not more than eighty or ninety yards behind. Then we 
turned in our saddles, still at a gallop, and let drive at 
them. One of us, I don't know which, made a lucky 
shot, and hit one of the ponies, for down it came a regular 



A STERN CHASE 257 

cropper, and lay quite still. It was a sad pity it wasn't 
the Comanche himself that was hit, but there was some 
consolation in the thought that the gentleman would 
have a longish walk back to camp. 

The remaining six held on after us as hard as ever, so 
now, instead of keeping on down the Frio, for my ranch, 
we " turned to sunset," in which direction the prairie 
was more level, and let our horses go. For an hour longer 
the yelling demons followed us, like a yelping pack of 
hounds, but gradually tailed off more and more, till they 
saw it was no good, and gave up the chase. When we 
were quite sure we had shaken them off, we slowed our 
horses down to a jog trot, and reached the ranch just as 
darkness fell, very thankful for having saved our scalps 
by so near a shave. 

I found Thompson pretty fit, and all well at the ranch, 
except that the previous night the Indians, no doubt the 
same party who had given us such a gallop, had killed 
one of our horses right close to it. All the others had 
been penned, and a good watch kept as soon as Thompson 
heard Indians were about ; but this one refused to be driven 
in, and so met his fate. The Comanches had also killed 
a poor young fellow who owned the nearest ranch to us 
on the eastern side, and run off several horses from his 
place. There was just an off-chance we might catch 
these marauders, if we were smart. Therefore I imme- 
diately sent out a Mexican to get up fresh horses, and 
got a young fellow staying at the ranch to ride down to a 
party of cow-hunters, working about fifteen miles below 
us on the Frio, and ask their help. 

That evening he returned with five good men and true, 
keen to have a go at the Comanches. With Thompson, 
young Vinton and myself, we were a party of eight, and, 
after some supper and an hour or two's rest, set off on 
our quest. Riding steadily best part of the night, we 
reached the Frio crossing, where we had seen the Indian 
camp, soon after daybreak. Cautiously reconnoitring 

17 



258 A RIDE FOR LIFE 

the position, we found it, as I feared, deserted ; and worst 
of all, the wily Comanches had so scattered that it was 
hopeless to follow the trail. So there was nothing for it 
but to return ingloriously to the ranch, which we did the 
same afternoon. 

On the back trail we found the dead body of the pony 
we had killed during the chase, or rather what remained 
of it, for the Indians had carried off the hind-quarters to 
eat, and the buzzards and coyotes had been busy with 
the rest. The head and neck were still nearly intact, 
and I found on examination that the bullet had struck 
it just behind the ear, which fully accounted for the 
sudden drop. 

After two days' stay at the ranch I set out to return 
to the command at San Antonio, where I arrived at the 
end of the week, and found my company encamped on 
the river-bank near the town. Over our pipes and coffee 
that night I heard from some of my comrades, with 
whom I was very friendly, of Dunn's infamous doings at 
and in the neighbourhood of Friedricksburg, both before 
we started after the Germans and whilst we were away. 

I mentioned in a previous chapter that I had not been 
on guard, nor had I been sent out on any of the scouting 
parties that harried the country round ; those for these 
duties had been chosen from Dunn's creatures, and had 
acted on the hints he gave them that he wanted no 
prisoners. He was too cautious to give positive orders 
to that effect. The unfortunate prisoners, whose only 
offence was that they secretly sympathised with the North, 
were placed under the charge of the guard, and in the 
morning were reported to have escaped. They had been 
quietly taken away and hanged at some little distance 
from the camp. 

One man had been brought in by a patrol one morn- 
ing, accused of being a Northern sympathiser. Nothing 
could be proved against him, and that same night he was 
released, and given a pass by Dunn. He went away happy 



INOFFENSIVE VICTIMS 259 

enough no doubt, poor fellow, at his escape from such 
clutches. Next morning his body was found hanging in 
the woods near by, with the throat cut from ear to ear. 
Many of these murdered victims were fathers of families, 
and some of them greyheaded old men. These people 
were not taken with arms in their hands, there was no 
force of the enemy in the country, and we had no similar 
acts to avenge. Further than this, martial law was in 
force, and summary justice could have been executed 
on any real offenders by legal methods. 

So there was no shadow of an excuse, no possible 
palliation, for these diabolical midnight assassinations. 
What motives could have actuated the perpetrators of 
these murders it is hard to conceive. Probably there 
were two. The first, the mad lust for blood, and the 
enjoyment of killing for killing's sake aroused in men 
of the baser sort, whom the lawless condition of society 
had brought to the top, and whose evil passions were 
unrestrained by any power outside themselves ; the 
second, the desire of Dunn and his creatures to prove 
themselves ultra-Southern in principle, and so make 
friends with the State authorities, in order to enrich 
themselves by further pickings and stealings from the 
public purse. Be that as it may, there was little doubt 
that more than twenty unfortunate men had been done 
to death in this shameful manner in and around Fried- 
ricksburg by Dunn's connivance, if not by his positive 
orders. 

There was a very strong feeling in the company against 
him and the other officers, which I did all in my power 
to stir up, and eventually a requisition was signed by a 
good many of the better sort, calling upon them all to 
resign. He, however, braved it out, cajoling some and 
threatening others, till there were but few names left 
and we had to drop the matter. My position, and that 
of the few who had stuck out, was not a pleasant one ; 
for I was a marked man, and there was the prospect 



260 A BIDE FOR LIFE 

staring me in the face of a rope on a live-oak, and myself 
dangling at the end of it. The man was quite capable 
of murdering me, or any one else that stood in his way, 
and I don't mind confessing that I felt very uneasy, and 
was very careful with whom I consorted at night just 
then. My only chance was to get out of the villain's 
command, and with that object half a dozen of my 
friends and myself requested permission from General 
Wasp to quit the company and join one of the regiments 
of the Texan Brigade which, under Hood, was doing 
such splendid service with General Lee in Virginia. 
This, through Dunn's influence, was refused, though 
every available man was urgently required in Virginia 
to fill up the gaps in the gallant brigade, and for the 
moment I was at my wits' end. I could have got away 
easily enough by malingering, and making it worth Dunn's 
while to connive at it ; but there are some things a man 
can't do, and that was one of them. 

It would be tedious to tell of all the efforts I made 
that autumn of 1862 to get out of my enemy's clutches — 
what hundreds of miles I rode, trying to recruit men 
for a battalion being raised for Confederate service by 
a Major Coop wood, in which I was promised a captain's 
commission if I could bring in forty men. Failing in 
that attempt, because most of the men I approached 
preferred State service to fighting with Lee in Virginia, 
where real hard knocks were going, I tried my hand at 
recruiting for Dunn himself, who was empowered to 
increase his command to a battalion to serve in Texas 
only. In this enterprise I was working with a man named 
Adams, a cattle-rancher, and a great friend of mine. 

We were solemnly promised by Dunn, in his most 
plausible manner, that if we could recruit forty men, one 
of us, whichever we liked, should have a captain's com- 
mission, and the other a first lieutenant's. He had 
arranged with the General that the officers were not to 
be elected by the men, as was customary in Partizan 



SOLD AGAIN! 261 

Ranger corps, but to be appointed by himself. So he 
said. We both had great doubts as to the reliability of 
these promises, but at last were talked over by the 
specious rascal ; which says a good deal for our sim- 
plicity, and something for his cleverness. 

We scoured the country in all directions, and when 
we had secured nearly thirty men, brought them into 
camp and had them sworn in. 

By this time there was a good deal of grumbling 
amongst the men, many of them declaring they wouldn't 
serve if deprived of their privilege of electing their officers. 

We therefore saw Dunn about it, and he again assured 
us there certainly would not be any election, and we could 
absolutely rely on getting our commissions as soon as 
we had made up our number. Notwithstanding this 
we both had an uneasy feeling we were going to be done, 
but having already taken so much trouble, resolved to 
go through with it. So we set to work again to make 
up our number, and, after about three weeks' hard riding, 
returned to camp with ten more recruits. No election 
had taken place ; and after hanging about in camp for 
some days, during which Dunn repeated his assurances 
as to our commissions, we both asked leave to go to our 
respective ranches, which was granted. 

I was away for a week, and on my return learned that 
the day after I had left, an election of officers had been 
held, and both Adams and myself had been left out in 
the cold, whilst creatures of Dunn's had got the com- 
missions promised to us ! 

When I tackled him about it he was quite ready with 
a plausible excuse, saying that despite all his efforts 
the men had insisted on their right to elect their officers, 
and that it was my own fault for going away that I was 
not chosen. If I had not been an enlisted soldier and 
under his command, I think it would have gone hard 
with Mr. Dunn at that interview ; but as it was, I could 
only grin and bear it as best I might. How the brute 



262 A RIDE FOR LIFE 

must have chuckled at having so badly fooled me ! We 
hung about in San Antonio or in the neighbourhood 
week after week, and for all the service we were to the 
Confederate cause, might just as well have been dis- 
banded. 

Horse-racing and gambling were the chief occupations 
of the officers and men, though the latter was strictly 
forbidden by the regulations ; yet it went on in camp 
from morning to night, and all night, leading, as may 
be supposed, to the utter demoralisation of all concerned. 
Quarrels and bloodshed were common enough among 
the gamblers, and were taken little notice of, as they 
were everyday occurrences. One such row I remember 
witnessing on the main plaza in San Antonio. I was 
strolling across it on my way to visit a friend, and was 
startled by a bullet whizzing past my head. I turned 
and saw a man running for his life towards me, and another 
staggering after him, with uncertain steps, but shooting 
at the fugitive as fast as he could loose off. 

I was pretty well in the direct line of fire, so dodged 
behind a tree to await events. Peeping round the 
trunk I saw the pursuer steady himself for a moment 
and take deliberate aim. This time the bullet found 
its billet, for the runaway, who had just reached the 
corner of a street, fell headlong, shot through the heart. 
He was a captain in a corps that had been christened 
" the Brigands," and had recently returned from New 
Mexico with the remnants of Sibley's Brigade. A 
gambler and a thorough desperado, he had been playing 
cards with the other man, who was also a Confederate 
officer, and on some paltry quarrel had struck him with 
his knife, but failed to kill him. Having no six-shooter 
on him, he then took to his heels, with the result described. 
The survivor recovered from his wound in due time, 
and no notice of the homicide was taken by the authorities. 
Such fracas were common enough in those days, and 
human life was cheap ; why should they trouble them- 



IN VINO VERITAS 263 

selves about such trifles ? In fact, of real discipline 
there was practically none, and with such a man as Dunn 
in command, could be none. 

I remember about this time one of his favourites, who 
had assisted in his midnight murders, got on a spree, 
and returning to camp very drunk, cursed Dunn and all 
his officers in unmeasured language, declaring they 
were thieves and murderers, and everything that was 
bad, and that they dare not punish him because he 
knew too much of their doings. " A pretty Major we've 
got," he shouted ; " why, he did six months with a ball 
and chain on his leg, and ought to have them on now ! " 
Next morning the drunken rascal was given sixty days' 
furlough, to recruit his health ! He was quite right, 
they dared not punish him. 

The day after this, quite a number of the same set 
raised a general row and free fight, and it was quite 
evident that such an insubordinate crew would, if we 
went into action, be a greater danger to their officers 
than to the enemy. 

It was about the end of October that I saw Pyron's 
regiment of Texan Rangers march through San Antonio, 
en route for New Mexico, where both they and he dis- 
tinguished themselves greatly. Pyron, though originally 
a barkeeper, was a natural born soldier, and withal a 
very quiet, unassuming man. His men, as fine a body 
of irregular cavalry as you could wish to see, well mounted 
on their own horses, had elected him colonel, on his 
merits as a fighting man, and he deserved their confidence. 
How I wished I could have served with him ; for every 
day I grew more and more disgusted with my present 
position, and with the incompetent, scheming rascals 
who commanded us. 

One evening about this time, on my return to camp, 
I found everybody in a frantic state of excitement. A 
report had come in that Cortinas, the notorious Mexican 
guerilla, had crossed the Rio Grande with two thousand 



264 A RIDE FOR LIFE 

men to raid in Texas, and we were under orders to meet 
him. I didn't believe one word of it, and thought it 
only one of the many " shaves " always being started 
in camp to enliven the deadly monotony of existence. 
However, it was true enough we were under orders to 
march next morning into the town, and thence to the 
Rio Grande as soon as transport could be provided. 

As I expected, there proved to be little, if any, 
foundation for the report, and I made up my mind to 
go recruiting again, if I could obtain leave from Dunn 
for General R. Baylor's Brigade, then being raised for 
Confederate service. 

After some demur he gave me the leave I wanted, 
stipulating that I should recruit for him, as well as for 
General Baylor, to which I had reluctantly to agree as 
the only means of temporary escape from him and his 
hateful command. 



CHAPTER IV 

THE FOUR MEXICAN DESERTERS 

When the command marched away for the Rio Grande 
I remained a day or two in San Antonio making my 
preparations, and there met a friend who held a com- 
mission to raise a company for General Baylor. I 
agreed to work for him on the understanding that I was 
to be first lieutenant if we could raise the men required. . 

All along the Mexican frontier, from the Colorado to 
the Rio Grande, there had been stationed a frontier 
regiment, enlisted for State service. It had been stationed 
in detached posts, at wide intervals, along this extended 
line for about a year, and was now going to be reduced 
from ten companies of 120 men each, to the same number 
of eighty each. Here was a chance to get a good number 
of recruits, if only I could persuade them to come with 
me and see some real soldiering. The first post I visited 
was high up on the Frio, some sixty miles above my 
ranch, and commanded by a Captain Dix, with whom I 
was acquainted. 

It was now November and, for Texas, bitterly cold. 
I had perforce to ride long distances between halts, and 
as I couldn't carry more than one blanket, for fear of 
overloading my good horse, suffered much at night. 
Moreover, it was known that bands of Indians were out 
depredating and killing in the country through which 
my route lay, and I dare not make a fire ; it would have 
been more than my life was worth. 

However, I saw nothing of the Indians themselves, 
though plenty of their " sign," which didn't add to the 

265 



266 THE FOUR MEXICAN DESERTERS 

pleasure of the ride, and arrived safely at Dix's post. 
There I was welcomed kindly enough, but alas ! found 
three recruiting officers had been there before me, and 
that the few men they had failed to enlist were not the 
sort who wanted fighting ; indeed I believe they had 
joined the frontier regiment in the hope of keeping out 
of it. After a few days' stay I left for Fort Clark, where 
was another frontier post, and made it in two days' ride. 
The fort was held by two companies of Confederate 
cavalry under command of Captain Carolan, an old 
friend, who put me up during my stay. 

The camp of the frontier detachment was about four 
miles below the fort, on the Los Moros Creek. There the 
following day I tried my hardest to get men for our 
company, but not one would enlist for Baylor's Brigade, 
though several were willing to join Dunn's command, 
notwithstanding that I told them quite frankly all 
about it. Finally, after three days' stay, and finding 
I couldn't do anything else, I enlisted some twenty 
men for Dunn, though I felt almost ashamed of myself 
for doing it. 

From this camp I rode to another on the Rio Grande, 
about thirty miles distant, travelling down the valley 
of the Los Moros ; a wonderful stock country, and 
abounding in game. This detachment was commanded 
by a Captain Rabb, who had been absent from it some 
weeks, leaving his orderly Sergeant in charge. What 
sort of a disciplinarian the Captain himself was, I don't 
know, but the Sergeant had no sort of control over the 
men. They lived comfortably enough in huts made of 
grass, and hunting, fishing, horse-racing, and gambling 
filled most of their time. No guards even were mounted, 
and no duty of any sort done ; it was only playing at 
soldiers. 

Not long after my visit the Comanches looked them 
up one night, stampeded their horses, and drove off the 
lot before they knew what had happened. At this 



THE GERMAN'S SKULL 267 

camp I couldn't even enlist men for Dunn ; they all said 
they were too comfortable where they were, and didn't 
want any change ! One thing I mustn't forget, as it 
shows what sort of men these were. High up on a pole, 
on the top of their commissary store-hut, grinned a 
human skull. I was told it had belonged to an un- 
fortunate German, who with others of his countrymen 
had been killed by these valiant warriors, when at- 
tempting to cross the Rio Grande some months before. 
They were quite indignant when I suggested it would 
be more seemly to bury the poor remnant of humanity, 
evidently regarding it as a trophy to be proud of. 

Being certain by this time that there was no hope of 
getting men for my friend's company in Baylor's Brigade, 
I wrote to him to that effect. I was sorry for myself 
that it was so, and especially for his disappointment ; 
for he had fought bravely in the ranks of Hood's Texan 
Brigade, and been badly wounded at the great battle of 
Sharpsburg. 

From the camp on the Rio Grande I returned, the 
way I came, to the post near Fort Clark. There, on this 
visit, some of the boys suggested I should try to raise 
a company for myself, which several of them said they 
would join. I didn't feel hopeful of success, and told them 
so, but that if I saw a chance of making up the number 
I would return to them. From Fort Clark I rode to an- 
other camp at the head of the Nueces River, but met with 
no success there ; and so, sick of recruiting for the time 
being, returned to San Antonio. Dunn, who was there 
on sick leave, professed to be much pleased with the 
twenty men I had got for him, and gave me leave to 
continue on recruiting service as long as I wished. 

My company, I found, was still near the Rio Grande, 
though the Cortinas raid had, as I expected, turned out 
to be a hoax. So hateful to me was the thought of 
rejoining the company and loafing about in camp, that, 
after a few days' rest in San Antonio, 1 made up my 



268 THE FOUR MEXICAN DESERTERS 

mind that even unsuccessful recruiting was better than 
that, and so started out west again. 

During my absence General Herbert had been succeeded 
in his command by General Magruder. The former was 
an indolent, imbecile puppy, who knew nothing of 
soldiering, and was by no means a fighting man. The 
latter came to us with a great reputation for daring, 
which he had gained in Lee's Virginian campaign — 
notably in the desperate fighting at Gain's Mill. 

Herbert, the incompetent, had abandoned Galveston 
to the Yankees without striking a blow, to the great 
disgust of all Texans, and especially of the inhabitants 
of the town, who had worked untiringly at the earth- 
works they threw up, and spent all their substance in 
arming them. Galveston was one of our few ports of 
entry for goods, which were scarce enough in Texas by 
this time, and our new General set to work to retake it. 
He collected a force of Texan Rangers, about one 
thousand in number, all good fighting men, and put a 
couple of hundred of them on board two little coasting 
steamers. 

The U.S. cruiser Harriet Lane, with a crew of about 
250 all told, lay off the port, about a mile distant, owing 
to the shallow water. One pitch dark night Magruder, 
and his two little steamers, drifted quietly down on 
the unsuspecting Yankee, boarded her smartly and, 
after a sharp tussle, captured her, with small loss to 
the attacking party. The Northerners ashore heard 
the firing, but could render no assistance to their com- 
rades ; indeed they didn't know what had happened 
till daylight broke and they saw the Confederate flag 
flying on their cruiser. That day, as soon as the stores, 
ammunition, etc., had been removed, the Harriet Lane 
was burnt where she lay, to avoid recapture, for the 
Confederates, alas ! had no port into which to take her. 

After this disaster the Yankees made but a feeble 
resistance, when Magruder and his Rangers assaulted the 



A SUNDAY AT HOME 269 

town and captured the garrison. This signal victory- 
shed a gleam of hope over all the State, and infused joy 
and gladness into all the Rangers' camps, where the 
men had been until now depressed and disheartened 
by the ineptness and mismanagement of their com- 
manders. 

When I speak of " camps," I should perhaps explain 
that in the Ranger corps, which were the most irregular 
of irregulars, there was no such thing to be seen as a 
military camp in the ordinary sense : no ordered array 
of tents in lines, with ambulances and wagons drawn up 
in parks, nor horses on picket lines at regular intervals. 
The camp consisted only of the men and the horses, 
scattered about as suited each one's fancy or convenience, 
generally under the shade of the splendid live-oaks so 
common in the country. A blanket formed the man's 
bed, and his saddle served him for a pillow. 

On my way up country this time I stopped at my 
ranch to have a look round, and spent a couple of days 
with Thompson. The good old fellow gave me a most 
kindly, friendly welcome, and cooked me a regal supper 
of venison steaks with his own hands. I was pretty 
hungry after my sixty-mile ride, and did ample justice 
to my friend's cooking. Then when coffee had been 
brewed, and the pipe of peace lighted, one realised it 
was worth even the sixty-mile ride to be at " home " 
again. It wasn't much of a place to be sure, but it was 
the only " home " I had on that side the Atlantic, 
or was likely to have for some time to come, and the 
magic of the word seems to endear the humblest shanty 
to one's heart. 

The next day was Sunday, and we spent it quietly 
strolling about the place : a restful, peaceful day such 
as I had not enjoyed for months past. In the evening 
Thompson, at my request, read several chapters from 
the Bible, and read them very well. I daresay, if 
some of my rough Ranger comrades could have looked 



270 THE FOUR MEXICAN DESERTERS 

in on us, they would have been astonished ; though 
why I hardly know, since even from a literary point 
of view there is no grander book than that, and in the 
roughest, wildest periods of my rough life I have always 
delighted in its pages. 

On the Monday we took a good look round the range, 
and found the stock doing well, and the crop of calves 
larger than I expected. 

Thompson, I should have mentioned, had sold out his 
share in the ranch, and stock, to me nearly a year before, 
intending to return home and settle down there once 
more. But still he stayed on month after month, and 
looked after the place for me, and did it very well too. 
He evidently had some trouble on his mind, which he 
didn't like to confide to me, though every now and then 
he seemed to be on the point of doing so. Poor old 
fellow, the time was drawing near when he would give 
me his confidence ; but that, alas ! was just before we 
said " good-bye " for ever. 

After this brief rest I started again on a fifty^mile 
ride to the nearest Ranger camp. There I stayed but 
one day, as no good was to be done, and then rode over 
to a ranch owned by a Doctor Jones, a friend of mine 
about sixty miles above me on the Frio. Poor fellow, 
I found him in the lowest of spirits, for the Indians had 
run off all his horses the week before ! It was now 
Christmas Eve, and there was to be a great dance at 
Fort Inge, twenty-five miles away, to which I was invited, 
and rode over to combine business with pleasure, if 
possible. Close to the fort I overtook the surgeon of 
the post, a Doctor Dodd, a very good fellow indeed, 
but more of a fighting man than a doctor, I should say ; 
for though he was a surgeon in the Confederate service, 
he had no diploma, and owed his title to the fact of his 
having invented a cure for maggots in cattle ! 

The hospitable Doctor gave me a pressing invitation 
to stay at his comfortable quarters, which I accepted, 



A CATTLE DEAL 271 

and there introduced me to his wife and daughter. 
The dance was a great success ; for everybody who came 
had travelled long distances to be present, and came 
to dance and enjoy themselves, not to look on. 

Two violins formed the band ; and indefatigable they 
were, for they played till nearly daylight, except during 
an interval for supper, which was a solid sit-down affair, 
with an abundance of eatables and drinkables. I need 
hardly say there were no dress-suits and no kid gloves, 
and indeed I don't suppose any of us possessed such 
things. The girls of course were in their best, with 
perhaps an added ribbon or two, and the men in their 
riding costume, but it was all very hearty and pleasant 
and informal. 

On the afternoon of Christmas Day I left my hospitable 
friends and rode over to Uvalde, where I expected to 
find some recruits. In this I failed, but met a man who 
wanted to buy beeves for the army, but could find none, 
chiefly I suspect because the owners didn't like Con- 
federate paper-money. I told him I Would sell him as 
many as he wanted, and would gather them in two 
days. So off we started for the ranch, but got benighted 
twelve miles from it ; and as it was pitch dark, and there 
was no road, had to camp on the prairie. 

Sunday we rested, as I always did when possible ; but 
on Monday morning Thompson and I started driving, 
with the Mexicans, and by midday on Tuesday had 
three hundred splendid fat beeves penned. My cattle, 
running over such a great range, were almost wild, and 
it was exciting work driving them, as well as uncommon 
hard riding. 

My man picked one hundred and fifty, and agreed to 
my price, $75 (paper) a head ; but it must be remem- 
bered that $1 specie was worth about $6 paper. Having 
got the cattle together for him, I found the confounded 
fellow had left his money at Uvalde, and I had to ride 
back there with him to get it. There I met Captains 



272 THE FOUR MEXICAN DESERTERS 

Rabb and Dix, who told me their companies were in 
camp at Black- Water Hole on the Frio, and were about 
to be disbanded with the object of making one company 
out of the two, for frontier service. They gave me a 
cordial invitation to go over with them, and stay till 
the reorganisation was completed, when probably I 
might pick up some recruits. Dix was a particularly 
good fellow, and I gladly accepted. Arrived at the 
camp, I found it was on the identical spot where, four 
months before, as previously related, the Indians had 
surprised, killed, and mutilated two unfortunate settlers. 
This had happened only a day or two before the seven 
Comanches gave my comrade and myself such a chivy 
across the prairie, and no doubt it was the handiwork 
of the same gentry. 

Dix had quite a budget of newspapers in camp, which 
I read most eagerly ; for I had had no news of the outside 
world for weeks, and under such conditions a newspaper 
is such a treat as stay-at-home folks, who get their 
paper regularly every morning, can hardly realise. From 
them it was that I learned the news of Magruder's gallant 
feat of arms at Galveston. 

I stayed on with my friends a few days, and then, 
having picked up three or four recruits, returned to the 
ranch. There I found that one of my best Mexicans, a 
young fellow named Antonio, had been foully murdered 
by a party of cow-hunters within a few miles of the 
place. The story is so characteristic of the utter law- 
lessness of the frontier, and of the callous brutality of 
the frontiersmen, that I think I must give it, as shortly 
as possible. 

It is the custom in a cattle country like Western 
Texas, where stock runs almost wild over vast areas, 
to hold periodically what are called " long hunts." 
These last sometimes for several weeks, and great herds 
of cattle are collected, from which the respective owners 
cut out their own property, and drive them home. Each 



ANTONIO THE MEXICAN 273 

ranch sends as many hands as can be spared, to help 
in the drive. 

Antonio was the smartest, best hand we had, and 
a favourite with everybody, from his willingness and 
cheeriness. Thompson then sent him, and another 
Mexican, to help on this occasion. 

It seems that early in the hunt a small stock-owner, 
of more than doubtful reputation, named Maccay, lost 
his six-shooter, and pitched upon Antonio as the thief. 
The unfortunate boy had often been left in charge of the 
ranch when he might have gone off with as much as a 
thousand dollars, besides arms and other things ; more- 
over he had a six-shooter of his own, and being, as I believe, 
innocent, indignantly denied the charge. As he would not 
confess, the brutes put a rope round his neck, after dis- 
arming him, threw the end over a branch, and hoisted him 
off the ground several times, until, what with the torture 
and the fear of death, he confessed, not that he had 
stolen the pistol himself, but had seen a strange Mexican 
take it, and hide it where he could find it if they would 
unloose him, and promise not to kill him. 

This they did, but of course the poor lad couldn't 
find it, for the very good reason that it hadn't been 
stolen. Then he offered to give them his own pistol, 
which was quite as good as the lost one, and to pay 
them any money they asked, as soon as he got back to 
my ranch. 

But all to no purpose. They kept him tied for a 
couple of days, and then Maccay and two more said they 
would take him back to the ranch, and left the rest of 
the party, ostensibly for that purpose. They took him 
to within about six miles of the ranch, and then, having 
some sort of an excuse for a murder, couldn't resist the 
temptation, and turned aside into the almost impene- 
trable chaparral, and there hanged him. Two days after 
the hanging, the pistol Antonio was supposed to have 
stolen was found where it had been accidentally dropped ! 

18 



274 THE FOUR MEXICAN DESERTERS 

I was furious when this outrage came to my ears, but 
it was impossible for me to punish the offenders single- 
handed ; and my comrades of the company, who would 
have helped me, were far away on the Rio Grande. It 
was worse than useless to seek redress from the authorities, 
for law and justice did not exist, or at any rate could not 
be moved to action, as I knew full well. This being so, 
and I being determined that, if possible, these brutal 
murderers should not go unpunished, I was constrained 
to try to put old Asa Minshul and his Vigilance Com- 
mittee on their track. Accordingly I rode into San 
Antonio, saw the old rascal at his house, and told him 
my story. He at once admitted that some hanging ought 
to be done, and he would see to it, if the murderers came 
into town. To send any of his myrmidons out to the 
Frio was too much of an undertaking, to punish the 
murderers of a mere Mexican boy. If they had hanged 
an American, it would have been different, and he would 
have done the job with pleasure — which I quite believed. 

Before we parted he advised me, most strongly, to get 
leave from Dunn to take out half a dozen of my com- 
rades and do the hanging myself, adding, with a horrible 
leering wink : " It's a job after his own heart ; he's sure 
to give you leave." And so we parted ; he cheerily 
promising me that my friends shouldn't want for a rope, 
if they came within his reach. 

On that ride down to San Antonio, whilst I was crossing 
a brushy prairie about twelve miles from the ranch, I 
suddenly came on a party of four mounted men, whom 
at the first glance I took to be Indians, but soon saw were 
Mexicans. They saw me at the same moment, and made 
a run for it. Seeing there must be something wrong, 
I set off after them and, my horse being fast and fresh, 
whilst theirs were ridden out, soon overhauled them. 
Six-shooter in hand, I halted them, and saw, to my 
relief, that the rifle each man carried was strapped fast to 
the saddle. Dismounting them, I made them hand me 



POR EL AMOR DE BIOS! 275 

the rifles one by one, and then demanded who they were, 
and what they were doing. 

After a deal of prevarication they at last confessed 
they were deserters from the Confederate service, running 
for Mexico. Down on their knees they went, and begged 
and prayed, as only Mexicans can, that I would let them 
go. They would gladly leave their horses and arms, 
and everything they had, with me, if only I wouldn't 
take them into San Antonio : " Por el amor de Dios, y 
todos los santos, senor," they pleaded. My duty un- 
doubtedly was to take them in and hand them over to 
the authorities for trial by court-martial ; but then it was 
a hundred to one that the bloodthirsty mob would seize 
them before I could do so, and hang them in the plaza. 

I pondered these things in my mind for a minute or 
two, whilst the poor devils still knelt and prayed, and 
then I resolved to let them go. Never were miserable 
mortals more relieved and thankful than they when I 
told them they could go. They called down the blessings 
of all the saints they knew of on my head, and then, 
handing over to them the few provisions they had in 
their malletas, I gave them the order to march. When 
they had gone a short distance I dismounted, fastened the 
rifles again on the saddles, and set off, driving my caval- 
cade before me, on the road to San Antonio. 

My arrival there with my plunder caused some little 
stir, and many were the questions asked by the boys as 
to how I had made the capture. When I told them the 
facts, which I did, except that I said the prisoners had 
escaped in the night, most of them shook their heads 
incredulously, being firmly convinced that I had killed 
them, as they themselves would certainly have done. 
It was a terrible state of affairs which then existed in 
Western Texas ; for it had come to this, that it was the 
rule to take a man's life, if only any kind of pretext could 
be found for so doing. I never heard or read of any- 
thing like it, except perhaps in the French Revolution. 



276 THE FOUR MEXICAN DESERTERS 

When I reported myself to the Government officials 
to hand over the horses and arms, I was told they knew 
nothing about them and, if I couldn't find the owners, 
I had best keep them myself ; for, as far as they could see, 
I had the best claim to them. So after a time, when 
no claimant had appeared, I sold the rifles and sent the 
horses down to the ranch. 



CHAPTER V 

THE COTTON-STEALERS 

About the middle of January and a day or two after 
my return to San Antonio, two companies of our regiment 
were ordered to march to Brownsville, on the lower Rio 
Grande, opposite to Matamoras, there to join a force 
under General Wasp holding that post against a 
threatened attack by the Yankees. 

I found on rejoining that some change had taken place 
for the better in the command, but I was still very dis- 
satisfied with it and anxious to leave it. Of this how- 
ever there was no immediate chance, so I had to do the 
weary march of about three hundred miles to Brownsville 
with my company. The worst of it was that, with a 
commander like General Wasp, and the staff of incom- 
petent rascals serving under him, there was but scant 
prospect of seeing any real fighting, or striking a blow 
in our country's cause. Their real object in moving on 
Brownsville was the better to carry on their speculations 
in cotton, and to rob the Confederate Government, 
whose one available asset it was, by sending it across 
the Rio Grande into Mexico for cash, which they put 
into their own pockets, as I will explain further on. 

The weather was awful, and the rain incessant, so the 
march was not a picnic ; but most evils have their com- 
pensation, and in this case we didn't go short of water, 
and generally had good grass for the horses. 

How wonderfully keen is the Hebrew's scent of a 
profit ! 

In these troublous times no small number of them 
277 



278 THE COTTON-STEALERS 

appeared in Western Texas, though goodness knows 
where they sprang from. Probably, as the buzzards 
wind carrion, so they scented the corruption which was 
so rife in the State, and saw their profit in it. On this 
march we had to cross a sandy waste of some miles in 
extent where, even in this wet season, there was no water, 
save in a muddy hole, far away from human habitation. 
Hard by this we found a Dutch son of Israel had literally 
pitched his tent, with the humane intention of supplying 
the hunger and thirst of passing troops with hard crackers 
and cheese, to be washed down with " rifle whiskey," 
the latter far more deadly in execution than most of the 
weapons after which it was named. Abraham however 
was not entirely disinterested in the matter, for the scale 
of prices he proposed to charge for his viands was, to say 
the least of it, exorbitant. Moreover he was apparently 
infected by the poison of Abolitionism, for he stoutly 
refused to accept payment in good Confederate paper ; 
nothing but hard dollars would do for him. At this 
the boys were highly incensed, for I don't think that any 
of them had so much as a single specimen of that com- 
modity about him. 

The majority pronounced him a malignant traitor, and 
were for hanging him on the spot. That they would have 
done so I have not the slightest doubt, had there been 
a tree convenient for the purpose. But there wasn't 
one within several miles ; so Abraham's person was 
spared, but his goods were taken, payment being made 
in paper money. He was amply avenged, I believe, by 
the intolerable thirst produced by his salt cheese and 
poisonous whiskey. 

About six miles from Brownsville we pitched camp, there 
to await the arrival of the rest of the command. Close 
by was a long, narrow lagoon, connecting with the Rio 
Grande, and on it, and in its reedy, swampy margins, the 
biggest show of waterfowl I ever beheld. Ducks of all 
sorts, teal, widgeon, snipe, plover, coots, and an immense 



BROWNSVILLE TOWN 279 

variety of wading birds, were everywhere to be seen ; 
but none of us possessed what my comrades called a 
" scatter-gun," so we couldn't take much toll of them. 

It was now the end of January, and spring was coming 
on apace ; the season down near the Gulf being quite a 
month in advance of the western part of the State. 
There the trees were barely budding, whilst here many 
flowering shrubs, especially the Wisaches, were blooming 
freely, filling the air with a delightful perfume. 

Next morning some of us rode into the town, and found 
it quite " a place," doing a large business with Matamoras, 
the Mexican town on the opposite bank of the river ; 
indeed, since the outbreak of war it was only via the Rio 
Grande that any goods could get into the State. The 
majority of the inhabitants were Mexicans, but there 
was a good sprinkling of Americans, and the town boasted 
a commodious market-house, three churches, and a 
well-built fort on the high bank of the river. Several 
small steamboats, plying to and fro across the stream, 
added to the bustle of the scene, and indeed it seemed 
quite a metropolis to eyes so long accustomed to the wild 
solitudes of the frontier. 

That night there was to be a great " fandango " held 
in a plaza on the outskirts of the town, and I must needs 
go and see it, with some acquaintances I had made. 

Round the square stood rows of orange and china 
trees, under which were stalls, or booths, for the sale of 
sweetmeats, light refreshments, and liquor — especially 
the latter. Gambling was going on everywhere : under 
the trees, at tables set out for the purpose, and in booths. 
Monte of course was the great game, and money seemed 
changing hands freely, there apparently being no dearth 
of hard cash amongst these gentry. In an open space in 
the centre of the plaza some two hundred couples were danc- 
ing to the music of a feeble string band. Waltzes were 
the favourite dance ; and as all Mexicans, both men and 
women, are fine performers, it was quite a pretty sight. 



280 THE COTTON-STEALERS 

Matamoras, to which I crossed in the steam ferry next 
day, was a thriving town too, but purely Mexican, the 
cathedral and the best houses being built of " adobe " 
(sunburnt clay) and painted in various colours. The 
streets and plazas were wide and well laid out, with 
orange and china trees bordering them, but dirty and 
evil-smelling to a degree. Here, as elsewhere in Mexico, 
the chief occupation of the natives seemed to be gam- 
bling. One wonders where and how they get the money 
they stake ; they certainly don't appear to work for it. 

Many of the houses in the main plaza, and the cathedral 
itself, were bespattered with bullet-marks and other 
signs of the severe fighting which took place the previous 
year at the election of the Governor of the State of 
Nueva Leon, when several hundreds of the combatants 
were killed. Such scenes were common enough at Mexican 
elections in those days, but now that wonderful man 
President Porfirio Diaz has changed all that, and order 
and good government prevail where chaos reigned. 

In Matamoras I met several Northerners I had known 
in Texas, who had cleared out for political reasons. From 
them I got a sight of some of the New York newspapers 
and read their version of events, which I need hardly 
say, was very different from that of the Southern press. 
Vicksburg was still holding out, but the long siege was 
telling on the garrison, which could hope for no help 
from General Lee, who had his hands full in Virginia. 
Evidently the expectation in the North was that when the 
place fell, and the whole length of the Mississippi was open 
to their gunboats, the South would be brought to her 
knees. I confess it seemed to me the supposition was 
correct, for when Vicksburg was taken by the Yankees 
the Confederacy would be cut in half, and the struggle 
must end. 

The fall of Vicksburg, which soon after took place, 
was a terrible blow to the South, but the end was not 
yet, Both friends and foes had failed to realise what 



NORTHERN NEWSPAPERS 281 

the indomitable courage and wealth of resources of Lee 
could do, in face of the overwhelming odds against him, 
and no one, especially in the North, dreamed he could 
hold his own, as he did, for more than a year longer. i 

The newspapers in the South had constantly buoyed 
us up with assurances that the North was heartily sick 
of the war, and would shortly make peace, on terms such 
as we could accept. Eagerly I scanned every Northern 
paper I could get hold of for any indications of such a 
feeling. There were none. All declared the war must 
be prosecuted to the bitter end, at any sacrifice of blood 
and treasure, till the Secession was ended by uncon- 
ditional surrender. No hope of peace could be found : 
only victory or ruin lay before us, and who could doubt 
which it was awaited us ? 

As I had fully expected, there was no sign of any 
movement on the part of the Yankees against us ; but 
we remained on, some of us in the fort and barracks, 
and the rest encamped about half a mile below the town, 
for many weeks. There was no real soldiering to be done, 
and I spent my time, when not actually on duty, in 
hunting and fishing, or visiting friends in Brownsville 
and Matamoras. One result of our being so long 
quartered so close to the Mexican border was that we 
lost a very large number of men by desertion. It was 
so easy for those who were sick of soldiering to slip across 
the river, that they couldn't resist the temptation. 
Patrols were kept on the watch on our side to stop this, 
but without much effect, though one of them mistook 
me for a deserter, and nearly shot me in his zeal for the 
service. 

One day I left my valuable horse, one of the best I ever 
had on the other side, in camp, whilst spending the day 
in Matamoras, and when I returned at night it had 
disappeared. I didn't know for certain it had been 
stolen, though probably it had been, since horse- thieves, 
.and every other sort of thief, abounded in that no-man's- 



282 THE COTTON-STEALERS 

land. In this uncertainty I hunted for it several days, 
up and down the river, but finding no trace of it had to 
provide myself with another mount. This was no easy 
matter, but at last I found a horse in Matamoras which 
had been the notorious Mexican guerilla Cavajal's charger, 
and bought him in default of a better. 

I hadn't had him many days before he went lame, 
having apparently strained his shoulder. A swim often 
does good in such cases, so I stripped and rode my horse 
into the river. 

I had got some few yards out from the bank, heading 
as though I were going to cross the river, when from a 
point about a hundred yards up stream a zealous patrol 
let drive at me with his rifle. The bullet whizzed past 
my head too near to be pleasant, and I at once turned 
my horse for the bank, shouting to the fellow not to fire. 
Whether he heard me or not I can't say, but he paid no 
attention, and fired two more shots before I could scramble 
ashore. Fortunately for me my zealous friend was a 
rank bad shot, or he must have plugged me, especially 
as he was doing his target practice lying down. I need 
scarcely say I never swam my horse in the river again 
as long as we remained in camp. 

One day we all went up to Brownsville to see the 3rd 
Texas Regiment inspected by General Wasp. The men 
turned out very well, and were a fine body, though of 
mixed nationalities, for the regiment was made up of 
American, Irish, Dutch, and Mexican companies. The 
officers were rather a motley crew, having been, as 
usual, appointed by political influence rather than for 
their military qualities. The Colonel commanding, by 
the name of Locky, was a doctor in some practice in 
San Antonio. A strong Secessionist, he had been a 
member of the State Convention, and thus got his ap- 
pointment. Personally he was a very pleasant fellow, 
though a thirsty one, but was entirely ignorant of military 
matters. The second in command, Colonel Bushel, was 



THE WRECK OF THE BRIG 283 

an old Prussian officer who understood his business, 
and was the only efficient officer in the corps. 

The Major, a man named White, had served some 
years, so he said, in the U.S. Navy ; he was an 
habitual drunkard, and neither knew nor cared anything 
about soldiering. The senior Captain, Kaupmann, was 
a heavy, besotted-looking lager-beer Dutchman, a stone- 
mason by trade, who had got himself elected, no one 
knew how, and was rarely quite sober. The others 
were for the most part barkeepers, or people of that 
class, and wholly unfitted for command. 

I have given these descriptions to show how affairs 
were managed, or rather mismanaged, in Texas, far 
away from the control of the Confederate executive ; 
of course at headquarters things must have been very 
different, or the collapse must have come much sooner 
than it did. 

The coast of the Gulf is subject to very severe storms 
of wind, which rise at times almost to the force of a 
hurricane, and make life in camp a perfect misery by 
filling the air with choking dust. In one of these a 
Yankee brig, laden with clothing and stores of all sorts 
for the Northern troops in New Orleans, came ashore 
on our side of the river. Company B was sent down 
to guard the wreck, which was breaking up and washing 
ashore all sorts of goods. At first the boys had a " high 
old time," and many of them secured plunder enough 
to have set up " store " on their own account. But 
presently this was stopped, and the rest of the things 
sent up to Brownsville, where they were confiscated as 
the property of the enemy. 

At first the order was that everything was to be sold 
by auction for cash ; no paper-money to be accepted. 
This was rather more than the soldiers would stand : 
they were paid in paper, and it was beyond a joke for 
the authorities to refuse to accept it. Accordingly the 
order was rescinded, and then the Hebrew speculators, 



284 THE COTTON-STEALERS 

in collusion with our General, swarmed to the auction 
to buy up everything worth the having. But the boys 
wouldn't have this either, and promptly ran them off 
the premises, as they did a lieutenant of the 3rd Texas 
who started buying for the expelled Jews. Our ex- 
cellent commander intervened to stop the expulsions, 
but the boys were in no mood to be trifled with, and 
wouldn't listen to him. 

The goods not sold that day were sent back to store, 
and the clothing, of which we all stood in great need, it 
was given out, would be distributed fairly amongst the 
different companies. That very night it was reported the 
store had been broken into, and the bulk of the clothing 
stolen. The real thieves were Captain Kaupmann and 
his friends : the supposed burglary was only a blind ! 

But the most laughable thing was when we were 
allowed into the store to select one garment apiece from 
the remnant left by these rascals. After long search 
I found a decent coat without any name on it, for already 
almost everything worth having had been appropriated. 
I was walking away with it, when Captain Kaupmann 
asked what I was doing with his coat ! I told him I 
had already counted sixteen garments with his name 
on, and I thought that was enough even for him ; besides, 
this one had no name on it. Blandly he smiled, the 
old Dutch thief, and said : " Gif you vill loke inside de 
slief, you vill zee my names." Sure enough the old 
villain had pinned it inside, so that it might not be 
removed. I threw it at him without further parley, 
and left the store in disgust. 

I have previously referred to the robbery and swindling 
carried on by our General and his crew in relation to 
the sale of cotton, and perhaps this is the place more 
fully to describe the method or methods, for they had 
several, by which they managed it. 

The Confederate Government having no money 
except the paper currency it created, paid the blockade 



COTTON UNDER MARTIAL LAW 285 

runners, who brought ammunition, arms, and all kinds 
of supplies, in cotton or certificates for cotton. In the 
early stages of the war, cotton was fairly plentiful, and 
the paper-money at, or about, par. Soon, however, it 
began to depreciate, and the holders of cotton, who had 
at first taken it freely, would only accept it at an ever- 
increasing discount. General Wasp then proclaimed 
martial law — illegally, I believe — in Western Texas, and 
under it made the paper-money legal tender at par, not 
only for cotton, but for all other goods. This measure, 
supposed to be for the benefit of the Government, was 
really enforced to enable his agents to buy the cotton 
for other than hard cash. Every one, at first, had been 
allowed to take cotton into Mexico, which was the only 
way traders could obtain goods. Now a system of 
permits was established, and these were only given on 
an undertaking on the part of the holder to exchange 
his cotton for goods, to be brought into Texas. 

As a matter of fact, the permits were given to the 
creatures of Wasp, and the rest of the ring, and to no one 
else. These gentry bought their cotton for paper, and 
sold it for specie in Mexico. They bought no goods, or 
at least only such as suited them, and put the dollars 
into their pockets, less the heavy percentage they had 
to hand over to their patron. 

Many of these people, who at the outbreak of the 
war were poor, amassed very considerable fortunes, 
made in this manner. 

The Confederate Government, finding that under this 
regime cotton came in but slowly, whilst it was urgently 
required to load the vessels waiting for it (at one time 
there were no fewer than seventy ships lying in the 
mouth of the Rio Grande to load with cotton), appointed 
an agent with extraordinary powers to collect it. He 
was empowered to impress teams, teamsters, and labourers, 
and could take all cotton required for State service, at 
a fixed price, payable in Confederate paper. 



286 THE COTTON-STEALERS 

Only a man of the highest character and of proved 
probity was fitted to fill such an office as this. The 
man selected, no doubt through local influence, a New 
York Jew of the name of Warter, was of the worst possible 
antecedents ; for he was a speculator and a gambler, 
and had been branded by public advertisement as a 
coward and a liar ! The teams and the teamsters he 
impressed, to the great loss and inconvenience of their 
owners, and the large sums of money entrusted to him 
by the Government, were mainly used for his own specu- 
lations, in which of course his friends shared. 

This was well known to be going on throughout the 
State, but so terrorised were the people by the rascals 
in power that no one dared to take any steps against 
them, and, as far as I know, they carried on their robberies 
with impunity up to the very last. To be sure they all 
cleared out directly the " break up " was known, and 
before the rule of the North was established in Texas ; 
which was a wise precaution on their part. 

The ordinance issued by General Wasp, under martial 
law, by which paper-money was made legal tender at 
par, had never been very strictly enforced except for 
the purchase of cotton, and when it had served its pur- 
pose, was withdrawn. Immediately on this the value 
fell away, day by day, till at last one had to pay fabulous 
prices in paper for everything : $30 for a very common 
pair of shoes ; $10 per bushel for corn ; $10 per pound 
for coffee ; $500 for a very ordinary horse ; $2J per 
pound for sugar ; $75 for a beef -steer ; $5 for a water 
melon, and so on, and so on. 

Perhaps I have dwelt at too great length on this 
disgraceful cotton-selling business, but it made a great 
impression on my mind at the time, as an instance of 
how " the wicked prosper." One more story I must how- 
ever tell relating to it, which for brazen effrontery beats 
everything in my experience. But it is too long for the 
end of a chapter, and must be reserved for the next one. 



CHAPTER VI 

THE RAID INTO MEXICO 

I must premise that the story I promised to tell at the 
end of the last chapter was not part of my own personal 
experience, for I had left Dunn's command and the Rio 
Grande before the ridiculous farce was enacted. It was, 
however, told to me by friends who were eye-witnesses, 
and I believe there is no doubt of its truth. Moreover, 
it was the talk of the whole State, provoking mirth in 
some, and shame in others, each according to his nature. 

It was well into the autumn of 1863, and Messrs. Wasp, 
Dunn and Co. had done good business with their cotton - 
stealing, but still had several bales left, which they had 
not been able to get across into Mexico. 

Now probably General Wasp's disgraceful conduct was 
actuated by two motives : funk for his own precious 
skin, and a desire to cover up his wholesale peculations. 
Which was the more potent of the two, is hard to say ; 
probably the last one, though he was undoubtedly a 
coward without shame. 

One morning a terrified Mexican ranchero came 
galloping into Brownsville with a report that the Yankees 
had landed in force at Boca del Rio, a small port at the 
mouth of the river, and were marching, horse, foot 
and artillery, on the town. At once all was confusion 
and terror in the place, and many of the officers were 
for evacuating it forthwith. But even General Wasp 
couldn't do that ; so he sent out the gallant Captain 
Dick Turner, with his company of Partizan Rangers, 



288 THE RAID INTO MEXICO 

to reconnoitre and report ; Wasp and Dunn remaining 
in Brownsville " between a shake and a sweat " whether 
to fight or run. Turner was a windy, gassy fellow who, 
with his tongue, could whip a whole regiment of the 
despised Yankees unaided. Certainly he was a poltroon, 
but he was one of Dunn's basest creatures, and no doubt 
was deep in the confidence both of that worthy and of the 
General. Therefore it is not clear whether the report he 
brought back was the offspring of his fears, or whether 
it was made at the suggestion of his superiors. 

Be that as it may, he returned the second day, in hot 
haste, with the report that he had sighted a force of 
Yankee cavalry and artillery, several thousands strong, 
marching on Brownsville. So overwhelming was their 
strength that it would be madness to attempt to hold 
the place ; the only chance to save themselves was 
to clear out at once, which he should certainly do him- 
self, whatever any one else did. Some of the Rangers 
with him told me afterwards that all they saw was a 
big herd of cattle being driven over the prairie in the 
dusk of the evening, and that it was these that Turner 
mistook, or chose to mistake, for Yankee cavalry ! 

In the panic and excitement that followed on Turner's 
report, a regular drunken spree set in, every one, 
from the General downwards, being more or less drunk. 
Orders were given to fire the barracks, Government 
stores, buildings, and cotton. As I have said, there 
wasn't much of the latter remaining, but what a splendid 
opportunity the burning of it gave these rascals to 
cover up their frauds on the Government ! What 
they had failed to account for had been burnt to save 
it from the Yankees ! So unfortunate ! But what 
else could they do ? 

Order and discipline were at an end, and the various 
regiments and detachments began to clear out on 
their own hook. The burning went on merrily, Wasp 
and Dunn lending a hand themselves, and all the while 



A STRATEGIC MOVEMENT TO THE REAR 289 

the flames from the beautiful barracks lit up a scene 
of disgraceful orgie. 

By this time the Yankees were said to be close at hand, 
and it was high time for the gallant General to save 
his precious life. He was probably worth about 
$100,000, mostly made during the last six months, 
The cash was safe on the other side of the Rio Grande, 
and he couldn't afford to be killed by these murdering 
Yankees ! 

It was now that he made what the wags called his 
celebrated strategic movement to the rear, and in an 
ambulance drawn by four good horses, attended by a 
small escort, never called a halt till he reached Kemp's 
ranch on the San Gertrudes, 125 miles from Brownsville ! 
He was followed by some of the soldiers and. a small 
crowd of civilians ; but these unfortunates couldn't 
keep up with his headlong flight, for he had relays of 
horses, and they had none. 

The best of the joke, if joke there can be in such a 
disgraceful episode as this, was that not a single Yankee 
had landed at Boca del Rio when all this took place ; 
and it was not till Wasp and his straggling command had 
got safely back to San Antonio that a small force did 
land. Even then it approached Brownsville slowly, 
and with great caution, believing that the story of its 
evacuation was a trap to draw them on. Was there 
ever such a General, ever such an exploit, since war 
was a trade ? 

But I must give one more of his exploits, and then I 
have done with him, for some time at any rate. 

It was about a couple of months before the hurried 
exit from Brownsville, that a young half-bred Mexican 
named Vidal had, by Dunn's influence, been given the 
command of thirty Mexicans, drafted from various 
companies of Rangers, and sent on scouting duty to 
the mouth of the Rio Grande. This too was after I 
had left the command. This man had served in my 

19 



290 THE RAID INTO MEXICO 

own company, and I knew him well as a vain, trifling 
fellow without any experience, who cared for nothing 
but gambling and drinking. But he was son-in-law of 
a man named Kennedy, who had amassed a fortune 
speculating both in the North and in the South, and 
who was connected with Wasp and Dunn in their cotton 
transactions. This was of course enough to get him the 
billet. 

About this time Dunn had, whilst yet money was to 
be picked up at Brownsville, to his great disgust, been 
ordered off to Eastern Texas with his command. He 
moved out of the place, and camped about eight miles 
off, till he could get the order rescinded (which he eventu- 
ally did), and this left the garrison rather weak. In fact 
all that remained were General Wasp's personal escort 
and a company of citizen volunteers, enrolled for home 
defence. Vidal knew Dunn had been ordered away, and, 
thinking he was gone, believed Brownsville to be in 
a defenceless state. So he " went Fanti," and played 
the mischief on the frontier. 

Dunn, before he marched out to his camp, sent two 
couriers, both of the old company in which Vidal had 
served, down to his camp, to order him to rejoin the 
command. To their great surprise, they met him 
already on his road to Brownsville ; but he explained 
that he had already received the order by a messenger, 
and was on his way there. The couriers, who were, as 
I have said, old comrades of Vidal's, suspected nothing, 
and of course turned back with the party. They all 
rode together, apparently on the most friendly terms, 
till they came within about twelve miles of the post. 
Then they halted, and Vidal invited his old comrades to 
have a drink with him ; and, whilst they were taking it, 
he and some of his men shot both of the poor fellows down. 

One of them, named Dashields, a friend of mine, who 
had joined the service at the same time as myself, was 
the only son of an old army officer, who at the time of 



MUERTO A LOS AMERICANOS! 291 

Secession edited a paper in San Antonio. Him the 
treacherous villains killed on the spot. The other man, 
though sorely wounded, got to his horse, and managed 
to ride into Brownsville before his pursuers. He arrived, 
speechless, but signed for pencil and paper and wrote 
his tale before he died. 

Dunn, who happened to have come into the town from 
his camp, refused to believe that his pet could have been 
guilty of such baseness, but averred the treachery must 
be the work of guerillas, or a party of marauding Yankee 
cavalry. However, he sent orders for his command to 
march back to the post forthwith, and sent out my 
friend Jack Vinton, with a party of ten men, to recon- 
noitre and ascertain what Vidal was really doing. 
Vinton had not gone far before he encountered the 
rascal with a party which he had increased to about one 
hundred in number, by picking up " greasers," which 
can always be done along the Rio Grande when any 
plunder is to the fore. Vinton of course couldn't attack 
with his small party, and Vidal seems to have come to 
a halt, in some uncertainty as to his future movements, 
supposing that the escape of the wounded man would 
have put the garrison on the alert. 

Now if Wasp and Dunn had only gone out at once, they 
probably would have caught, and destroyed, the whole 
of the murdering gang, and so saved many lives and 
prevented the destruction of much valuable property. 
But they, like Vidal himself, were better hands at mur- 
dering defenceless people than fighting, so they set 
to work erecting breastworks of their precious cotton- 
bales, and getting a gun into position, against the attack 
of this paltry band of Mexican cut-throats ! 

Vidal, finding he was not attacked, turned back down 
the Rio Grande, and raising the cry of " Muerto a los 
Americanos ! " plundered all the ranches in the district, 
and murdered all the Americans he could lay his hands on. 

Two days after the murder of the couriers, the gallant 



292 THE RAID INTO MEXICO 

warriors in Brownsville, having partly recovered from 
their scare, sent out two companies of Rangers in pursuit. 
These, if they could have come up with Mr. Vidal and 
his Mexicans, would have made very short work of them. 
But unfortunately the rascal got wind of what was up, 
and scattered his band, all of whom got safely across 
the river into Mexico, where they eventually joined 
Cortinas, the notorious brigand and guerilla leader. 

Now having told these two stories, which seemed 
to fit into this place, I must hark back to the doings 
on the Rio Grande, whilst I was yet a sergeant under 
the gallant Dunn's command. And one of them at any 
rate was remarkable enough, I think, to be worth the 
telling. 

It may be remembered that in Chapter II. of the previous 
Book I mentioned having casually met a man named 
Davis outside Corpus Christi, shortly after Thompson 
and I landed in Texas. Davis was a lawyer of some 
standing and, though a strong Northerner, was popular 
with a certain section of the people, and had been elected 
a Probate Judge. When Secession took place he had, 
like many others, to clear out, and went North, where 
he was given a commission as Colonel to raise a regiment 
for Federal service out of the disaffected elements in 
South-west Texas and the deserters and the renegades 
who had crossed into Mexico. With this object he 
established his headquarters on the Mexican side of 
the Rio Grande, a little way above Boca del Rio, and 
near a small frame building dignified by the Mexicans 
with the name of a Custom House. Close by this a 
detachment of Mexican troops, some thirty in number, 
was quartered to guard the passage of the river, across 
which two small ferryboats plied by day, but were 
tied up on our side at night, since the ferrymen lived 
there. 

Davis, aided by two Texan renegades named Height 
and Monson^(the latter a desperado of the worst 



VOLUNTEERS TO THE FRONT 293 

character, who had shot two men near Corpus Christi 
and then bolted into Mexico) had collected together 
about three hundred deserters, and was, it was reported, 
about to take them by sea to New Orleans to join the 
Yankees there. 

This then was the position of affairs when, one Saturday 
afternoon in April 1863, the bugles sounded the fall-in 
at our camp near Brownsville, and Major Sampson, 
when the parade was formed, called for 150 volunteers 
for a night expedition. We were not told the nature 
of the service, nor where we were to go, only that 
probably there would be some fighting ; and almost 
every man in the six companies stepped the six paces 
to the front. " Boys," said he, " I can't take you all ; 
wish I could ; but I guess six hundred's too many for the 
job. So each captain must pick thirty of his best 
mounted men — that'll be quite enough. And look 
sharp, and get a day's rations together, for I'm off 
by sundown." 

I was one of those chosen from my company ; saw 
my horse well fed, got my rations ready, and, with the 
rest of the party, fell in just before sundown. After 
an examination of arms and horses, about which latter 
the Major was very particular, explaining that we had 
a long, sharp ride to do that night, he gave the word 
to march. 

Once clear of the camp we wheeled to the right and, 
keeping close to the deep fringe of chaparral that lines 
the river-bank nearly to its mouth, moved at a sharp 
trot in the direction of Boca del Rio, distant about 
forty miles. It was a lovely summer evening and, as 
the last gleam of daylight died out, we rode along at 
a smart " lope " over the open prairie by the light of 
the moon, which however would set and leave us in 
darkness in some four hours' time. So we pushed along 
to make the most of the light, every one wondering 
and guessing what we were after ; for, so far, the secret 



294 THE RAID INTO MEXICO 

had been well kept, if indeed it was known to any one 
except the Major, and none of us knew our destination. 

For about two hours we kept going, " loping " and 
trotting, and then our commander halted, dismounted 
us, to ease the horses for a few moments, and told us he 
was going to cross by the ferry, just above Boca del Rio, 
into Mexican territory, capture the Custom House and 
its Mexican guard, and then surprise Davis' camp. He 
was going to take him and his officers, and burst up his 
precious regiment of deserters and renegades ; and as 
he had two good and reliable Mexican guides with him, 
thought it would be easy enough to effect the surprise, 
if only we could secure the Custom House guard before 
the alarm was given. 

Now these deserters and their boasting talk, which 
we heard of in Matamoras and in our camps, had riled 
the boys very much, and they were " blue mouldy " to 
get at them. So when the Major had unfolded his plan 
of campaign they were wild with excitement, and raised 
such a cheer as set the chichalakas and turkey-cocks in 
the chaparral hard by crowing and gobbling vehemently. 
For my own part, though I was as dead against the 
deserters and the rest of the crew as anybody, I thought 
the proceeding an unwise one ; for the more successful 
we were in our raid, the greater would be the insult to 
the Mexican Government, whose territory we were going 
to violate, and I thought it bad policy to embroil our- 
selves with people who, so far, had been friendly to our 
cause. 

About 3 a.m. we reached the ferry, and found the two 
boats tied up all right on our side. Leaving our horses 
under guard, we quietly crossed in two trips, and formed 
up in dead silence under the high bank, within a few 
yards of the Mexican guard house. The moon had long 
since set, and save for the glimmering light of the stars, 
darkness reigned. 

A whispered word of command was passed down the 



A COMPLETE SURPRISE 295 

ranks, and noiselessly we crept up the bank past the 
Custom House, standing presently round the guard 
house, where no light was visible, and all were apparently 
fast asleep. The surprise was complete, for in less time 
than it takes to tell, the thirty Mexicans were prisoners, 
and their arms secured. Never did I see men so scared 
as they were when they found themselves prisoners in 
our power. 

Evidently they hadn't a very high opinion of us, for 
they seemed to think they would be murdered, and many 
fell on their knees and begged for their lives. Great 
accordingly was their relief when Major Sampson assured 
them their lives were safe, and that if they kept quiet 
they would probably be released in an hour or two. 

Davis' camp was about two miles away, and the road 
to it lay through the dense chaparral nearly the whole 
distance. 

Sampson left five men, with loaded rifles and six- 
shooters, in charge of the Mexicans, and the rest of us 
set off, marching two abreast along the narrow path 
in the inky blackness of the night, the two Mexican 
guides leading the way. From them the Major had 
learned that Davis, Height, and Monson occupied a 
good-sized hospital tent, pitched in the centre of the 
camp. Twenty picked men were therefore told off to 
secure these three, at all hazards, when the rush was made. 

It was not altogether a pleasant stroll along that 
black path, where you could scarcely see your hand 
before you ; for if Davis had an inkling of what was 
afoot he could cut us up to a man. Fortunately for us 
however, he had not the remotest idea of what was in 
store for him. So secure did he deem himself on neutral 
territory, that when at last we emerged from that horrible 
path into the comparative light of the space around the 
camp, we found no picket, not even a sentry mounting 
guard. By the dim starlight we could see quite a number 
of tents, and on each flank wagons drawn up, whilst 



296 THE RAID INTO MEXICO 

outside them were many horses picketed. In the centre 
of the camp, standing by itself in a small open space, 
was the hospital tent sure enough ; and now, if the 
three men we particularly wanted were in it, we had 
them right enough. 

It was now, as I guessed, about 4.30 a.m., and still quite 
dark. Not a sound was to be heard : the whole camp 
was fast asleep, unconscious of the fate awaiting it so 
soon. In dead silence, and on tiptoe, we filed right and 
left, the twenty picked men in the centre, and then 
waited for the signal to charge. This was to be a single 
shot fired by the Major. 

The shot sounded, loud and startling in the stillness 
of the night, and then, with a volley from all the rifles, 
and one wild yell, we were amongst the tents. In less 
than five minutes, we twenty told off for the duty had 
Davis and his friends securely tied. None of them 
made any resistance except Monson, who fought like a 
wild cat and wounded two of the men badly with his 
bowie-knife before he was overpowered. The rest of 
the renegades, completely surprised, for the attack to 
them was a veritable " bolt from the blue," showed but 
little fight, and those who did were speedily shot down, 
Those who could, bolted right and left into the dense 
chaparral, where we didn't attempt to follow them. 
Only two prisoners, besides the three leaders, were taken. 

By the time it was all over, the first faint streaks of 
dawn began to show in the east, and it was time for us to 
be off, before the whole country turned out. So hastily 
collecting all the arms we could carry, and exploding 
the ammunition, we set off at a smart pace for the ferry, 
bringing the five prisoners along with us. There we re- 
leased the Mexican guard, and by six o'clock in the 
morning were safely across on our own side of the river 
again. Our only casualties were one man killed, and the 
two wounded by Monson. It was a smart bit of work, 
and well managed, though I still thought it very foolish to 



THE MIDDAY HALT 297 

risk the bringing down upon us the wrath of all Mexico 
just for the fun of breaking up the nest of renegades. 

It was a most lovely summer morning that Sunday, 
and as we halted for breakfast under the shade of the 
live-oaks, where the horses had been left over night, all 
were jubilant over the complete success of our little trip, 
and no one gave any heed to possible troubles to come. 

After a couple of hours' rest, which we had well earned, 
we started on our return to camp. About noon we halted 
near a clump of live-oaks, and dismounted. Major 
Sampson moved quietly about amongst the boys, evidently 
taking their opinions on some matter of importance, 
though he never came near me. What it was, was soon 
made clear ; for in about ten minutes' time Monson, 
Height, and the two other prisoners were dangling from 
the limb of a live-oak hard by. 

Monson no doubt richly deserved his fate, for he 
was a thorough-paced scoundrel, whose only redeeming 
feature was his pluck. Against the others nothing 
particular was known except their desertion from the 
Confederate forces. For this doubtless they deserved 
death by all the laws of war, but they ought to have 
been tried first in all due form by court-martial. Samp- 
son's excuse for the murders, for such they were, was 
that if he handed over the prisoners to the proper au- 
thorities in camp, there would probably be such a rumpus 
kicked up by the Mexicans, over the raid, that they 
would have to be released and sent across the Rio Grande 
again. 

Davis was spared, and taken into camp under strong 
escort. There the desire amongst the boys to hang him 
was very strong ; but General Wasp and Dunn, much 
as they would have liked to string him up, were afraid of 
the consequences of such an act. They therefore told 
off a party of twelve reliable men to guard him, with 
myself as Sergeant (to which exalted rank I had then 
attained) in charge : probably because they knew I 



298 THE RAID INTO MEXICO 

had always resolutely set my face against private and 
amateur hangings. The next day, about midnight, 
when all the camp was quiet, I received an order to take 
the prisoner over to General Magruder's camp beyond 
Brownsville, and hand him over to the Provost there : a 
wise precaution I believe, for if the boys had known he 
was being removed, they would have lynched him to a 
certainty. As it was I got him safely away, and was 
very glad when the Provost in Magruder's camp relieved 
me of my troublesome charge. 

As I had anticipated, the Governor of Nueva Leon, 
in whose jurisdiction the raid had been made, was furious 
at the insult put upon his country, and demanded the 
instant release of Colonel Davis and a full apology for 
the violation of his territory. With these demands 
General Magruder at once complied, and both he and 
General Wasp having denied all knowledge of the raid, 
the matter dropped. 

In after years, when the war was over, I met Davis 
again in Indianola at the house of my friend and partner 
Doctor Hughes. He told me that during that night's 
march to Magruder's camp he fully expected to be 
strung up on every tree we came to, and that he thought 
he was mainly indebted to me that such was not his fate. 



CHAPTER VII 

MY FRIEND GOES HOME 

About this time we were startled in our camp by the 
firing of salvos of artillery and volleys of musketry over 
in Matamoras. Flags were hoisted on all the public 
buildings, and crowds of Mexicans went about cheering 
and shouting themselves hoarse. In the evening the 
town was illuminated after a fashion, and a grand " fan- 
dango " held in honour of a glorious victory gained over 
the French under Marshal Bazaine. 

The very next day, curiously enough, there were more 
rejoicings, though not on quite so extensive a scale. This 
time it was the Yankees celebrating the fall of Vicksburg, 
and the practical ruin of the Confederate cause. Both 
these jubilations turned out to be somewhat premature ; 
for the Mexican " victory " proved in reality to be a 
severe defeat, and Vicksburg, sorely battered, and in 
desperate plight, still gallantly held out. 

A lieutenant in my company named Luck, to whose 
misdeeds I have before referred, especially after the 
fight with the German Unionists from Friedricksburg, had 
now to resign his commission, as the boys insisted on 
his retiring. 

I was persuaded by my friends amongst the better- 
class men to put up for the vacancy, and, though I was 
sick of trying to get a commission, consented. I got a 
clear majority of votes, but was done again by Dunn's 
trickery. The man who stood next to me was put up 
to demand a recount, and then it was worked so that 
our positions were reversed, and I came out second. 



300 MY FRIEND GOES HOME 

Luck, immediately he resigned his lieutenant's com- 
mission, was appointed by Dunn Captain and Quarter- 
master of the regiment. 

A scene which took place just after this election is 
perhaps worth relating, because one of the actors in it 
behaved with pluck and generosity : a combination of 
qualities not often found amongst our rough frontiersmen. 
A dispute about some trifling matter arose between two 
members of our company named Adams and Cranham. 
The first, an old acquaintance of mine, was a Western 
stock-raiser, a rough, open-hearted fellow, with plenty 
of pluck, and much liked by everybody ; the other a 
little backwoods schoolmaster, and would-be lawyer, ill- 
tempered and spiteful, with a sharp edge to his 
tongue. 

In the course of the dispute Cranham grew very 
abusive, and Adams, who suffered from rheumatism and 
walked with a stick, threatened to strike him, if he gave 
him any more talk. Cranham at once clapped his 
hand to his six-shooter, and dared him to do so. Adams 
raised his stick, and the other fired point-blank at his 
head, and missed, though he was so close that his hair 
was powder-burned. Cranham then started to run, 
firing as he went ; and Adams, forgetting all about his 
lameness, darted after him. In about twenty steps he 
caught him by the shoulder, and, as the runaway pointed 
his pistol at him again, grasped it by the muzzle and 
wrenched it out of his hand by a quick turn of 
his wrist. 

His adversary then took to his heels, crying for mercy 
as he ran. From ninety -nine men out of every hundred 
in that camp he would have received none, but Adams 
was the exception. He was a splendid shot, either with 
pistol or rifle, and as Cranham ran, screaming with terror, 
he covered him for a moment ; then dropped his muzzle, 
and walked up to where we were standing, saying quite 
coolly, " I couldn't shoot the poor devil like that." 



YELLOW JACK 301 

Both men were placed under arrest by the captain of 
the company ; but there was so strong a feeling amongst 
the boys on Adams' behalf, that they were both shortly 
released, on condition that they dropped the quarrel, to 
which my friend at any rate readily agreed. 

About the middle of April 1863 our company, then 
quartered in Brownsville, was ordered to rejoin the 
regiment, stationed some twelve miles below the town ; 
a detachment of twenty men being left behind, which 
would be relieved in a fortnight. I volunteered to 
remain with this detachment, and it was fortunate I did 
so, for my old friend Thompson turned up at Browns- 
ville the very day after the company marched out. 
He, as I have already said, had sold out his interest 
in the Frio ranch to me more than a year before, and 
was now on his way home. He had come to Brownsville 
partly to say good-bye to me and partly in the hope of 
getting a passage in a blockade-runrier homeward bound 
from the mouth of the Rio Grande. Our meeting was 
most cordial, for save and except for the foolish quarrel 
at the ranch over the pet deer he shot, which was entirely 
my fault, we had been warm friends since we first met 
in Canada, three years before. 

He looked pretty well, but complained of his head, 
and a general lassitude and weariness. 

The next day he seemed worse, was feverish and 
restless, and that afternoon I got my friend Doctor 
Jones, the head of the medical service on the Rio Grande, 
to see him. He said he had a mild attack of yellow 
fever, but with care and good nursing thought he would 
be all right again in a few weeks. With some difficulty 
I got him a comfortable lodging in the town and, with the 
aid of a Mexican woman, tended and nursed him myself 
for the next fortnight. Then I was obliged to rejoin 
the regiment ; but as my friend was already on the road 
to convalescence, I left him with a fairly easy mind, 
promising to return as soon as I could. I spent four days 



302 MY FRIEND GOES HOME 

in camp, during which we had almost incessant drill, in 
preparation for inspection at Brownsville by General 
Magruder. Then we marched into the town for this 
function, and I found Thompson so much better that, 
though still weak, he was out of bed and dressed. 

Magruder overhauled us thoroughly, for with all his 
faults he was a real soldier, and a fighting man. He 
was a West Point man, and held the rank of colonel in 
the U.S. Army at the time of Secession. On that he 
was made major-general, and given the command of a 
division under Lee, with whom he did good service 
and saw much hard fighting in Virginia, when McClellan 
was foiled in his first attempt on Richmond. But 
it was said that it was owing to some fatal weakness 
of his that he failed to bring up his division in time 
to block McClellan's retreat on the James River, so 
saving that commander from an overwhelming disaster. 
Anyway, he was relieved of his command shortly 
after this occurrence, and sent down to Texas. What- 
r ever his faults, he was the best officer by far that we 
had seen in Texas since the war began. 

He seemed pleased with our turn-out and appearance ; 
and indeed we were, as far as men and horses went, 
a fine body of irregular cavalry, and could have given a 
good account of ourselves, if only we had had a capable 
leader like himself. As to drill, I'm afraid that was not 
our strong point ; but that was the fault of Dunn and his 
crew, and I believe Magruder gave these gentry a bit 
of his mind on the subject of their ignorance and in- 
efficiency. So it was reported, and I most sincerely hope 
it was true. 

After the inspection we rode back to camp, and there 
had to remain on duty till the following Friday. Then 
I got leave till the Sunday night, and rode up to Browns- 
ville to look after Thompson. Unfortunately he had had 
a slight relapse and had taken to his bed again, but the 
doctor I called in, in Jones' absence in Corpus Christi, 



A SUDDEN CONVERSION 303 

made light of it ; said he had been doing too much, 
but with care and quiet would soon be all right again. 
So I left him that Sunday afternoon, without any appre- 
hension, and never dreamed that our final parting was 
so near at hand. 

That ride back to camp was a memorable one, for a 
comrade who rode with me, and myself, were caught in 
a sudden tornado some miles short of it. An inky 
blackness spread over the sky with extraordinary rapidity, 
and almost before we could take shelter in the chaparral, 
down came the rain in bucketfuls. All that night it 
poured down upon us, and without blankets, or cover 
of any sort, we sat shivering and drenched to the skin. 
Arrived at camp, we found our comrades in not much 
better plight, for their tents had been blown in all direc- 
tions, and the whole show was a wreck. 

The day we returned an order was read out on " dress- 
parade," converting us, whether we liked it or not, into 
the 33rd Regiment of Texas Cavalry, in the regular Con- 
federate service, taking our tents from us, and reducing 
our transport to four wagons to the regiment. This 
created a great deal of dissatisfaction amongst the boys ; 
for service in a local Partizan Regiment, for which they 
had enlisted, was very different from that in a regular 
corps. To me it brought a hope of escape from the 
service I hated so much ; for in the regulars substitutes 
were allowed, whilst in the Rangers they were not, and 
I made up my mind to get one as soon as I could. 

Till the Thursday evening we were busy with drills 
and inspections, and it was not till Friday morning that 
I could get leave to go back to my sick friend. I found 
him decidedly worse, though he didn't seem to realise 
it, but was cheerful, and very glad to see me. " I am 
always better when I have you with me, old friend," 
he said. " Don't leave me if you can help it, till I'm 
all right again." 

I had a week's leave, and would be with him all that 



304 MY FRIEND GOES HOME 

time, I told him, and at the end of that, hoped he would 
be up again. But in my heart of hearts I had no such 
hope, for it seemed to me the end of all things earthly 
was close at hand for my poor friend, and the thought 
was hard to bear. I went off at once to the doctor, 
and asked his opinion. He had seen Thompson an hour 
or two before, and said there was no danger, though he 
certainly was very weak. Might I call in the post 
surgeon, and would they both see him together ? He 
had no objection, and presently, after consultation, I 
was assured by both that my fears were groundless, 
for with good nursing my friend would pull round. 
That, at any rate, he should have, poor old fellow, as far 
as I could give him it. All that Friday night I sat up 
with him, and all Saturday never left him. He was very 
patient and quiet ; but he was growing weaker and weaker, 
and, notwithstanding the doctors' opinion, I felt sick 
at heart, fbr as I watched his thin, drawn features I 
knew there was no hope. 

On Saturday evening, as the daylight was fading, I 
was sitting by his side, whilst he apparently was dozing. 
I suppose I looked sad and worried, as indeed I was, 
for he suddenly opened his eyes, and placing his hand on 
mine said, " Don't worry yourself about me, my dear 
fellow ; I shall be all right again soon, if you can stay with 
me and look after me." I declared I wouldn't leave him 
whatever happened, till he was better. " But you must 
be back in camp by the end of the week. You mustn't 
get into trouble for me ; I have been trouble enough to 
others, without that," he said. Then, with a weary 
sigh, as talking to himself — " I daresay that'll be long 
enough." He lay quite still after this, and, thinking 
he was asleep, I was gently moving away when, once 
more, he laid his hand on mine and said, " Don't 
move ; if you don't mind listening, I should like to tell 
you who I am, and how I came to leave home, just 
before we met in Canada." 



THOMPSON'S STORY 305 

And this is what he told me, as I sat by his side in the 
deepening gloom. There was nothing very romantic 
in it ; only the tragedy of a commonplace life, that so 
many of us carry about with us for years, hiding it so 
carefully from our friends behind a smiling, cheerful face, 
whilst our hearts are heavy within us. 

He had been station-master at one of the principal 
stations of a great railway in the North of England. He 
had a pleasant home, and a good wife, and lived happily 
and comfortably in the northern town for about five 
years. Then one night the Edinburgh express ran into 
a shunting goods-train just outside the station, and there 
was a frightful smash : carriages piled on each other, 
dead, dying, and mutilated passengers, making such a 
scene as only those who have witnessed such an accident 
can realise. He was exonerated from all blame for the 
accident, which, like so many of the kind, had been 
caused by the carelessness of a signalman. But the 
shock of the awful scene he had gone through was too 
much for his nerves, and he sent in his resignation. 

The directors of the company gave him a month's 
leave during which to reconsider the matter ; for he 
was a valued official, and they wished to retain him. But 
it was no good. The very sight of the station, and the 
rush and roar of the trains, so unnerved him that it 
seemed to his disordered imagination every one was 
pointing at him as the cause of the disaster. 

All this I may say was inexplicable to me, for he always 
seemed a cool, placid man, the very last one to be 
troubled with nerves, whilst I knew him. However, 
in his then state of mind there was nothing for it but 
to throw up his employment. This done, he left the 
town, dropped his real name, which had become hateful 
to him, and took that of Thompson. For a short time 
he went into farming in an out-of-the-way place in the 
extreme west of England. But wherever he went he 
was haunted by the fear lest he should meet some one 

20 



306 MY FRIEND GOES HOME 

who knew him, and would whisper, " That's the late 
station-master of who caused that awful accident." 

It was becoming a monomania with him ; so at last 
his wife agreed with him that his only chance was to 
leave England, and start life afresh in a new country. 
When he had found a new home, she would come out 
and join him. In this, as we know, he had failed ; and 
now, poor fellow, he was go|ng home to his wife, who was 
eagerly expecting him, he said. Would I write to her 
by the first opportunity, and tell her how it was he had 
been so long on the journey ? He gave me her address, 
and said he had told her all about me, and what friends 
we had been, and how pleased she would be, poor soul, 
to get a letter from me. 

I promised him to write by the first chance ; but 
presently he looked questioningly at me and said : " But 
after all it is perhaps hardly worth while to write, I shall 
be home almost as soon as your letter." He did go 
" home," poor fellow, before I could write, for he died 
in my arms next morning at sunrise. 

He was sleeping quietly, after a restless night, and I 
lay down close by him. Suddenly I heard him gasping 
and struggling for breath. I held him a few minutes 
in my arms ; then I laid him back upon the bed, for my 
poor friend was dead. 

At sunset that lovely Sunday evening we laid him to 
rest in the cemetery hard by the town. An Episcopal 
clergyman read the solemn Church of England burial 
service, and then the doctor, and the little party of 
mourners who had followed with me, left him to sleep 
for ever, a stranger in a strange land. 

My poor friend's death was inexpressibly sad to me, and 
I mourned him truly as an honourable, open-hearted 
man, fearless, and truthful in all his dealings. How 
I regretted having persuaded him to come to Texas ! 
But then I didn't know his story, or his aims and objects 
had I known them, things might have been different. 



MY SUBSTITUTE 307 

The following day, hearing that Dunn was in town, I 
went out and asked him for sixty days' leave to attend 
to my own business, for I felt very reluctant to return 
to camp just then ; and besides, I had had no tidings from 
the ranch for some time, and didn't know whether the 
Indians had cleared out the whole place or not. He 
said he was very sorry he couldn't grant me this, as all 
furlough had been stopped by the General's orders, but 
added, " Now you are in the regulars, why don't you 
get a substitute ? " Well, it was almost a mockery to 
ask such a question ; for such things are very rare com- 
modities, and when one by good fortune was found, the 
authorities were very fastidious about accepting him, 
unless the applicant were a favourite. However, I said, 
" Am I to understand, then, you will accept a substitute 
in my place if I can get one ? " 

" Certainly," he answered ; "I will recommend his 
acceptance by the General, for it rests with him." 

How strangely things happen in this world some- 
times ! That very evening a young fellow, evidently 
a sailor and an Englishman, met me in the town, and 
asked me some question — about a lodging, I think it was. 
So we got into conversation, and he told me he had 
come over in a coaster from New Orleans, and been 
discharged ; that he was sick of the sea, and had some 
idea of joining the Confederate service : could I put him 
in the way of it ? " Why," I said, " you've come to 
the very man who can, and who will put something into 
your pocket too ! " 

Then I told him how I wanted a substitute, and was 
willing to pay him $150, if that would suit him. He 
jumped at it, and we struck the bargain at once. I took 
my man — Osborne was his name, to the hotel — and then 
went straight off to my friend Dunn again to tell him what 
I had done. 

I wasn't surprised to find that he raised all sorts of 
difficulties directly. No Englishman would do at any 



308 MY FRIEND GOES HOME 

price, and only an American citizen over twenty-five 
years of age could be accepted. As may be supposed, 
I was pretty mad at this, and told him he knew as well 
as I did that what he asked was impossible to get, and 
if it were possible, would cost three or four thousand 
dollars. We were alone, so I told him straight he had 
fooled me often enough already, and I wasn't going to 
let him do so any more. " I am going now to Colonel 
Luckett and General Wasp, and if they refuse my sub- 
stitute, which I don't believe they will, I tell you plainly, 
Major Dunn, I will serve under you no longer," and with 
that turned on my heel and left him. 

To cut a long story short, Colonel Luckett, who com- 
manded the brigade, sided with me, and thought I was 
being unfairly treated. He was a good fellow, and had 
always been friendly with me. " Come right away to 
the General with me," he said ; "I think I have enough 
influence with him to fix this up for you, whatever Dunn 
may say." He was as good as his word, and by Friday 
evening everything was settled ; my man Osborne was 
sworn in, I paid him his money, and was a free man 
once more — free, above all things, from the hateful 
command of the man Dunn, to serve under whom was 
a disgrace to a self-respecting man. 

And yet, when it came to parting with some of my 
old comrades, I couldn't help regretting the severance. 
The majority of them were right good fellows, rough 
frontiersmen as they were, and many a good turn they 
had done me ; showing their confidence in me too by 
voting for me when I ran for lieutenant. Not a man 
amongst them blamed me for going, though I confess 
I felt a sort of sneaking feeling in my heart of hearts, as 
though I were deserting them in what might be the 
hour of danger. However, I consoled myself with the 
thought that after all I wasn't going away to lead an 
easy or luxurious life, but back to the exposed Indian 
frontier, where the few and scattered inhabitants, it 



A BELATED POST 309 

might truly be said, lived in a state of chronic warfare, 
and had hard enough work to protect their property, 
let alone their scalps. 

So, on May 12, 1863, just a year after joining them, 
I left the Partizan Rangers, now the 33rd Regiment of 
Confederate Cavalry, with many a warm hand-shake 
from old friends, and many a hearty wish for our speedy 
meeting again. 

After spending a few days in Matamoras with ac- 
quaintances I had made, I bethought me I had promised 
to inquire for letters for a friend in Brownsville, and so 
strolled into the post-office, a wooden shanty with racks 
round the interior, in which letters are deposited till 
called for. Whilst the Mexican postmaster was de- 
liberately searching for the name I had given, I glanced 
round and there, right opposite me, saw a packet ad- 
dressed to myself in my mother's handwriting ! Then 
I examined a flyblown list of letters uncalled for, which 
was stuck against the wall, and found there were two 
more for me. I hadn't heard from home for months, 
and was delighted with my unexpected find. 

The letters had been addressed " Care of the South 
Western Express Company," which, so far as I could 
learn, had no existence except in the fertile imagination 
of an English newspaper man who had advised those 
having friends in the South to so address their letters. 
How mine ever got to Matamoras still remains a mystery ; 
but I got them, which was the great thing, and was 
happy in their possession, the more so that my finding 
them in that unlikely place was a pure chance. Having 
finished my business in Matamoras, I set out with a 
friend who was going 125 miles of the way to Victoria, 
on my eight days' ride to San Antonio, which I reached 
without any misadventure. 



CHAPTER VIII 

IN COMMAND AT LAST ! 

I must now explain that, from the middle of May 1863, 
to the beginning of November 1864, I neglected to keep 
the rough diary I had hitherto written up pretty regularly 
— partly from want of time, partly because nothing of 
much interest happened, but chiefly I fear because I 
was idle. But in the latter month, being a good deal 
at the ranch, and the rest of the time in winter quarters, 
with the frontier company I then commanded, I wrote 
up notes of anything I could remember of importance 
during the interval. From these, therefore, I resume 
my story, such as it is. 

From San Antonio I rode off to the ranch, after one 
day's rest. There I arrived late in the evening, to the 
great surprise of the Mexicans, for I was the last person 
they expected, or wished, to see. Having no one to look 
after them, these gentry, after the manner of their kind, 
had been taking things very easy, and everything had 
been neglected. Calves had been left unbranded ; 
horses allowed to stray miles away on the prairie, till 
the only wonder was that the Indians hadn't cleared 
out the lot. However, I soon changed all that, and 
kept the lazy rascals hard at work from morning till 
night ; they, no doubt, the while, heartily wishing me 
back on the Rio Grande, or anywhere else. 

The night of my return I heard there was a Mexican 
beef-buyer in the country, about twelve miles above me ; 
and as I was in dire need of cash for current expenses, 
I started out next morning with some of my vaqueros to 

310 



WARLIKE EDITORS 311 

his camp. Finding I could do business with the Mexican, 
I set to work cattle-hunting for eight days, collecting 
a good bunch of fat stock, which I sold for $2,500, 
and so returned to the ranch in much contentment. 

One day I rested there, and then, as I was quite out 
of stores of all kinds, had to ride into San Antonio again, 
sending my wagon on ahead of me. I found the town 
in great excitement over the fall of Vicksburg, and 
General Lee's Pennsylvania campaign. The former 
event I looked upon as a most serious disaster for our 
cause, and a blow so staggering that it would probably 
compel the South to capitulate very shortly. In this 
of course I was mistaken, for the desperate struggle 
continued, with increasing bitterness, for two years 
longer ; the dauntless Lee, with ever more and more 
diminishing forces facing his foes with a resourcefulness 
and rapidity of movement that made the whole world 
wonder and admire. 

The heart of the whole Southern people was lifted 
up to that hero, as the heart of one man, in worship 
and in admiration ; and how anxiously and eagerly every 
soul watched and waited for tidings of his great deeds ! 
But now, in the cold light of afterwards, it is easy to see, 
though hard to say, that it would have been better for the 
South had her hero been a smaller man, and less selflessly 
devoted to her cause : her death-struggle would have 
been shorter, and the sum of her awful agony reduced. 

But still in San Antonio I found every one, especially 
the non-combatants, and above all the newspaper 
editors, very warlike ; they were going to whip the 
hated Yankees to a certainty ! What, however, troubled 
these worthies more than the disasters of the war was 
the rapid fall in value of the Confederate paper-money, 
which now was at a discount of about 88 per cent. 
" Where would it stop ? " was the question in every one's 
mouth ; and it was only those who had some foresight 
who realised that, if the South lost, it would be abso- 



312 IN COMMAND AT LAST 

lutely worthless. Fortunately these were a very small 
minority, or I don't know what would have happened. 

Returning to the ranch after a week in San Antonio, 
I had to start out again to look after some stock some 
miles up the Frio, so there wasn't much respite from 
the saddle for me. Whilst camping there an old ac- 
quaintance, of the name of Johns, turned up somewhat 
unexpectedly. He had served in the old company 
with me, but, suffering much from rheumatism, had been 
discharged. He came of a good Virginian family, and 
was an old bachelor, very eccentric in his notions and 
habits, but, take him altogether, a very good fellow. 

I knew he was as poor as a rat, so invited him, when 
he got his discharge, to come up to the Frio, and if he 
had nothing better to do, he could put up there as long 
as he liked, and I should be delighted to have him. So 
now he was on his way there, and I was glad enough to 
see him, for life on a ranch by oneself is but dull work. 

I'm afraid his first night on the Frio was not very 
pleasant, for the rain came down in torrents. In those 
days I never got up for rain, unless I was fairly washed 
out ; so I rolled myself in my Spanish manta, which 
is nearly impervious to water, and slept through it 
pretty well. Not so poor Johns, who said next morning 
he had wandered about disconsolately all night, to try 
and keep himself warm. 

About sunrise the rain ceased, and I unrolled myself 
from the manta to find the Mexican had prepared the 
usual breakfast of fried beef, corn bread, and coffee. 
After this I was strolling a little way from camp when, 
behind a clump of live-oaks, I came on a lively scene. 
An American lad, not more than eighteen years old, 
had his six-shooter pointed at one of my vaqueros, and 
was threatening to shoot him, whilst the latter, with 
his knife drawn, and his eyes gleaming with rage, was 
telling him in Mexican, not a word of which did the 
lad understand, to make a sure shot, or he would kill 



A TRANSFORMATION 313 

him with his knife. I very soon put a stop to the row, 
the cause of which I have forgotten ; but it was lucky 
I turned up when I did, for a minute or two later on, 
one or other of them would have been dead. 

The country was too wet to do much riding, so I 
turned back to the ranch, and Johns with me. He, 
poor fellow, was, I think, the most awkward man on a 
horse I ever beheld, and the rheumatism, which had 
stiffened one of his knees, didn't improve his horseman- 
ship. He hated riding, which was not to be wondered 
at, though a most unusual thing in Texas, and never 
would get on a horse if he could help it. Of course in 
a country like that, of " magnificent distances," he had 
to ride, but it was always pain and grief to him. 

It was now early in the month of July, and the heavy 
rains had changed the whole face of nature with a 
suddenness which always struck me with wonder, often 
as I had seen it. Months of drought and fervent heat 
burn the prairies brown : even the evergreen live- 
oak leaves seem scorched and withered, and all the 
land parched and dry, till one yearns for the sight 
of something green. Then the heavy clouds gather, 
down pours the torrent of rain for perhaps forty-eight 
hours without ceasing, and the whole scene is changed 
as though by a magician's wand ; the grass springs fresh 
and green, the flowers bloom ; lagoons of pure water 
fill the dry hollows, and all things living rejoice in the 
transformation. 

Most of that month Johns and I remained at the ranch, 
branding calves, looking up the stock, and generally 
getting matters straight. In our spare time we amused 
ourselves fishing, and shooting turkeys, deer, peccary, 
etc. ; but as I have already described sport on the Frio, 
I do not propose to do so again. Johns was very keen on 
what he called " gunning," or hunting, and, when I was 
too busy, or too lazy, to go with him, would often sally 
forth, mounted on his old Mexican pony, by himself ; 



314 IN COMMAND AT LAST 

and a queer figure he looked — something like the im- 
mortal Don of blessed memory. 

One evening he returned from one of these solitary 
trips, a stranger figure than usual. What he had done 
with himself I couldn't make out at first, but as he drew 
near, I saw he had stripped off his pantaloons and in 
them was carrying, in front of him, a young fawn he 
had captured. It was tied up as in a sack, but objected 
most strongly to this mode of conveyance, and struggled 
so violently that, just as he got into the corral, it burst 
its bonds asunder, leaving the pants torn and ripped 
almost beyond repair. 

Johns' face was a study as he ruefully turned over 
and examined his ruined nether garments ; but pre- 
sently he dropped them and set off, with his shirt tails 
flying in the breeze, in pursuit of his fawn, which, left 
to itself, was making off out of the corral. The little 
thing was quite young, so Johns, with the help of one 
of the Mexicans, soon ran it down ; but the chase whilst 
it lasted was most comical. The pants were apparently 
beyond repair, but the old fellow was both persevering 
and ingenious, and stitched them together somehow ; 
indeed he had to, for at the moment they were the only 
pair he owned. 

He was a great hand at tanning alligator-skins, making 
them quite soft and pliable. As there were plenty of 
the brutes in the river, he kept all hands on the ranch 
supplied with excellent leather for mocassins, besides 
selling quite a quantity of the skins in San Antonio, where 
they were in great demand. 

One day about this time, riding home to the ranch, 
I saw a number of buzzards hovering over the edge of 
the chaparral, a sure sign something lay dead, so turned 
out of my way to see what it was, and was rewarded by 
finding a fine fat buck, just killed by a panther. It was 
in such splendid condition that I took the liberty of 
helping myself to a good bit of the loin, which I tied 



PIEDRAS NEGRAS 315 

behind my saddle and carried home. I'm afraid when 
the founder of the feast returned he didn't find much left, 
for by the time I had loaded up my share of the spoils, 
about fifty buzzards were hard at work on the remainder, 
and it wouldn't take them long to pick the bones. 

In the beginning of August I rode, with a friend, to 
Eagle Pass on the Rio Grande, 160 miles West of San 
Antonio. It is a small town, chiefly inhabited by 
Mexicans, and just across the river is the Mexican pueblo 
of Piedras Negras. It is a port of entry, through which 
a good deal of cotton always passed into Mexico, and this 
had been largely increased by the war, and consequent 
blockade. Though a miserable one-horse place, the 
war had brought it a good deal of trade of one sort and 
another, and the object of my trip was to see if I couldn't 
sell my friend the Alcalde of Piedras Negras some of my 
beeves for the Mexican market. 

He received us most hospitably, putting us up very 
comfortably, for his house was the best in the place, 
and he was a man of some wealth. What was more 
important to me, he said he could take a good lot of 
my cattle, and would come over to the ranch, in a week 
or two's time, to get them. 

In Piedras Negras quite a number of renegades and 
deserters from the Confederate service had congregated, 
and seemed to have things pretty much their own way 
there. I was well enough known to many of these gentry, 
some of whom assumed rather a threatening aspect ; so I 
took care to be well armed with a couple of six-shooters 
whenever I went out in the town. Lucky for me I did, for 
one morning I got into a crowd of about twenty of them, 
and was told my name was down on a black list of men 
who were doomed ; that sooner or later they would 
" get " me, and then drive my stock over into Mexico. 

I was in a pretty tight place, one against twenty 
ruffians, but my only chance was to put a bold face on it. 
So I whipped out my six-shooters and faced the lot of 



316 IN COMMAND AT LAST 

them, saying, " You'll never have a better chance to get 
me than now, but the first one that handles his weapon 
is a dead man. Hands up every one of you, or I'll 
loose off ! " Up went the hands like one, and I saw 
they were either cowed by my getting first draw, or else 
by good luck were all unarmed at the moment — the 
latter, probably. Just then the Alcalde and two of his 
friends turned into the plaza and, seeing what was in 
the wind, joined me at once. 

Now, having some backing, though I don't know that 
my friend the Alcalde was much of a fighting man, I 
turned to the crowd, that still stood " hands up " before 
my levelled six-shooters, saying : "If you want my 
cattle, and dare to come for them, I promise you a good 
time before you get them, and I'll meet you half way if 
I know you're coming. Now you can get." And they 
went. But when Don Miguel Ramos, the Alcalde, 
heard what had taken place, he agreed with me that a 
longer stay in Piedras Negras would not be healthy ; 
so before my friends the deserters could organise an 
attack, which no doubt they would have done under 
cover of night, we cleared out, and saw no more of them. 

On the way back to the Frio we met a Mexican, who 
said a large band of Indians had been seen in the neigh- 
bourhood the day before, and were supposed to be still 
in the country. We kept on, but rode very cautiously, 
making no fire, even at night. I was very uneasy, 
wondering what had happened at the ranch, and whether 
Johns had heard the news and penned my horses in 
time. On the last day of the journey my uneasiness 
was not relieved by coming across fresh sign of a very 
large band. However I had been most fortunate again, 
for the Comanches had passed my ranch some miles to 
the right ; probably because they had got what they 
wanted lower down the river. Johns had seen nothing 
of them, but had heard they were in the country, and 
had taken the precaution to pen the horses. 



MUSTANG BREAKING 317 

I found a party of Mexicans waiting for me at the 
ranch with a large bunch of mustang mares, just caught, 
which they wanted to sell me. I declined the offer, 
for full-grown mustangs can never be tamed in a wild 
country like that, and as soon as the clogs are taken off, 
make for the prairie and their old haunts again. They 
are pretty little creatures, running between twelve and 
thirteen hands high, and when caught quite young, 
and very carefully gentled, make very good cattle-ponies, 
being active as cats, and wonderfully tough. But a 
full-grown mustang, fresh off the prairie, is about as 
wild a thing as you can imagine ; yet the Mexican 
vaqueros, in their high peaked and cantled saddles, 
with a blanket rolled in front, to keep their knees down, 
generally contrive to stick on. 

The animal is blinded, and the fore-leg strapped up. 
The Mexican vaults lightly into the saddle, pulls off the 
blind, the mustang is let go, and the fun begins. With 
arched back, and head between his fore feet, if he can 
get it there, the little animal jumps all ways at once, 
whilst his rider drives in those awful spurs, and plies 
his " quirt," to try to get him into a gallop. Once he 
succeeds in that, the fight is won, for he never lets him 
stop whilst he has a kick left in him. 

But the next time he is mounted, much the same 
performance goes on, and a mustang never becomes 
what you would call " a mount for a nervous gentle- 
man " ; not even a horse-dealer could conscientiously 
so describe him, I think. 

At the end of August my friend the Alcalde from 
Piedras Negras turned up for the cattle, and stayed with 
me a week whilst we were hunting them for him. During 
this hunt a wild steer came very near doing for me. 
He charged right at me, and as my horse, usually a very 
good one at the game, turned to avoid the rush, he 
stumbled. In a moment the steer was on us, and over 
and over we went in a confused heap of man and horse. 



318 IN COMMAND AT LAST 

When I came to myself, on a lounge in the house, I 
was surrounded by all the Mexicans in the establishment ; 
the women kicking up no end of a row, and declaring, 
" Es muerte ! el pobre senor ! " But I wasn't dead, 
or anything like it — only stiff all over, as if I had been 
well beaten ; and it was some days before I could get up 
into the saddle again. It seems that just as the steer 
bowled us over, one of the Mexicans, riding close behind 
me, roped him, and so stopped his charging again ; prob- 
ably so saving my life. 

Every evening of his stay the Alcalde, who had a great 
gift that way, entertained us with Mexican " cuentos," 
or tales ; many of them very good, and all well told. 
It is quite a custom with these people to yarn like this ; 
and in that out-of-the-way country, where there are no 
books or newspapers, and where none could read them if 
there were any, they will gather together in some friend's 
house and listen nearly all night to a good narrator. 

The stories I fancy are traditions handed down from 
father to son perhaps for centuries, for many of them 
have their locale in old Spain ; though most of them have 
their scene in Mexico, and are tales of hunting, cattle- 
raiding, love and war, and vendettas fought out between 
neighbouring pueblos. 

I traded with the Alcalde to our mutual satisfaction, 
and he and his peons drove off a fine lot of fat beeves, 
whilst I received a good solid sum in hard dollars ; so 
that, for the first time for many a day, I had cash to 
the good, and began to lay by money, which I hoped 
steadily to increase if things kept right. If only peace 
could be restored, and the frontier be protected from 
Indian and guerilla raids, I felt confident of ultimate 
success. But alas ! there was no such good fortune for 
me. The South was determined to accept no terms short 
of independence, and the North was equally resolute 
not to grant it. 

The fall was a very seasonable one ; my cattle were 



I RAISE A COMPANY 319 

flourishing, and increasing rapidly, and I had high hopes 
of being able to run over to England in the coming spring, 
if only for a short visit. But these pleasant dreams 
were soon dispelled, for in the month of October 1863 
the Legislature of the State passed an ordinance render- 
ing all able-bodied men between twenty and fifty years 
of age liable to serve, either in the Confederate army 
or with the State troops. In fact it was universal 
conscription, and I was wondering how soon I should be 
called out, and what service I should have to join, when 
I received an order from Governor Murrough to enrol 
a company for the protection of the adjacent frontier 
and the upper Rio Grande. Accompanying it was a 
commission as Civil Magistrate for the district. Though 
the company was to be raised primarily for frontier 
service, it was liable to be ordered anywhere, or against 
any enemy, at the sole discretion of the Governor. 

The service was a popular one amongst the frontiers- 
men, who had suffered so terribly in life and property 
from the raids of Mexican guerillas and Indians, so I 
soon enlisted and enrolled the requisite number of eighty 
men. Each man brought his own horse and arms, 
for which he was paid by the State, as soon as mustered 
in — in paper, of course. As soon as the enrolment 
was complete, I ordered the men to hold an election for 
officers, and was very much pleased and flattered when 
they elected me to command them ; the more so as the 
election was perfectly free and independent on their 
part, and was managed by ballot, so that no unfair 
pressure could be applied by anybody. 

I may say at once that I was very proud of my little 
command ; for all, or nearly all, were good and tried 
frontiersmen, well mounted and armed, and ready to 
go anywhere and do anything in the way of fighting. 
Certainly there wasn't a finer body of men in all the 
State of Texas, and, if I had to soldier, I was content 
to do so in their company. 



CHAPTER IX 

A LONG SCOUT 

My company was not attached to any regiment, so I 
had no " ranking officer," as they say out West, and 
was my own commanding officer, and indeed was, for 
a long time, the sole authority, civil or military, in a 
very wide district. 

I didn't bother my men with much drill ; it was 
sufficient for me that they could ride, and shoot, and 
perform the simplest evolutions, which I held were 
the three essentials for an irregular corps such as ours. 

The first service we were sent on, was to go to the 
assistance of Colonel Benavides, who, with a force of 
State troops, was holding Lorado, on the middle Rio 
Grande, against a threatened attack by Yankees and 
Mexican guerillas. My orders were to report myself 
to the Colonel at the earliest possible moment, as he 
was daily expecting to be attacked by a force much 
stronger than his own. The distance was just over 
two hundred miles, and we did it in four and a half 
days, arriving before the enemy had crossed the river. 
Though there was no fight, for the mongrel crew of 
Yankees and guerillas, as soon as our presence was 
known, cleared out, yet our forced march was not in 
vain. As they retreated down the Mexican side of the 
river, we could not of course follow them, though my 
fellows were very keen to have a go at them. 

After a week's rest at Lorado we returned to the Frio 
district, and had only been back a few days when news 
reached me that a big band of Indians had been killing, 

320 



IN PERMANENT CAMP 321 

and raiding horses, some miles to the north of us. 
The next morning we started in pursuit, and the 
following day hit the trail, a very plain one, made, my 
trailer said, by at least one hundred Indians, driving 
nearly double that number of horses. But they had a 
week's start of us, and ride as we might, we couldn't 
catch up with them. So after a ten days' ride, which 
took us right up into the mountains, we had to turn 
back, being nearly out of provisions, and none being 
procurable in that wild country, though fortunately 
there was plenty of water. The weather was very cold, 
and the men suffered a great deal from that, and from 
scanty rations. It is no joke sleeping on the ground, with 
only one small blanket over you, when the frost is keen 
enough to freeze the pools and water-holes, but my fellows 
bore it all without a murmur. Of course I fared exactly 
as they did, and doing everything I could for their comfort, 
I believe became popular with the whole command. 

December, I think, was the coldest month I ever ex- 
perienced in Texas, for even down on the prairies we 
had constant frosts, severe enough to freeze the shallow 
pools and lagoons. It was cruel work camping as we 
usually did, and sleeping on the bare ground with only 
the sky for shelter, so I formed a permanent camp 
for the company a few miles up the Frio. It was situated 
in a sheltered hollow hard by the river, handy for water, 
and where the boys, if they took the trouble, could 
get plenty of fish, and game of all sorts. All hands 
working with a will, good warm bush huts were soon 
built, and the men were as comfortable as frontiersmen 
ever expect to be in their rough lives. 

Having fixed up the camp to my satisfaction, and 
got everything in good order, I handed over the com- 
mand to my 1st Lieutenant, and gave myself leave to 
go down to the ranch to spend Christmas. I took a 
couple of the boys with me who were very keen to 
see some sport with a scratch pack of hounds I had 

21 



322 A LONG SCOUT 

just got out from San Antonio. They were foxhounds, 
originally brought down from the Northern States, 
and though perhaps not what you would call here 
" fashionably bred," were a useful lot, with plenty of 
dash and music. There were only five couple of them, 
but they could bustle the big " lobos " and smaller, 
though more artful, coyotes, properly. My friend 
Lieutenant Jack Vinton, of the Rangers, came up just 
before Christmas, and we four had many a good gallop. 

We would start of a morning, just after sunrise, when 
the air was beautifully cool and fresh, and the dew lay 
thick on the prairie grass. Dotted here and there were 
" motts," or clumps, of white chaparral, and big patches 
of long grass, favourite lyings for both kinds of wolves, 
so we hadn't got far to draw, and were sure of a find. 

The " lobos " were great grey brutes, rather bigger 
than the European wolves one sees at the Zoo, and go 
a tremendous pace. But there was so much game about 
in the country, and they, in addition, made so free with 
my young stock, that we generally found them pretty 
full, and not in condition to run away from the hounds. 
When empty, they certainly had the legs of them, and 
would make for the dense chaparral along the river, 
where they were generally lost. 

The country, for miles and miles, was open, rolling 
prairie, with no coverts on it except the motts I 
have spoken of, scattered here and there at wide in- 
tervals. Therefore if the lobo was roused out on 
the prairie, a few miles from the brush on the river- 
bottom, we were sure of a good run of perhaps an hour 
or more, and at a clinking pace ; for scent in the early 
morning was generally very good, and there were no 
fences to stop hounds or men, and no coverts big enough 
for the hunted wolf to dwell in. Of course we were 
not always in luck's way, no sportsman ever is, but we 
rarely went out without having at least one good run, 
ending with a kill more often than not. 



NO PLAC£ FOR A VEGETARIAN 323 

By ten or eleven o'clock, when the sun grew too hot 
to be pleasant, our day's sport was done, and we made 
for home, to enjoy the usual substantial breakfast of 
fried beef or deer meat, or wild turkey, with perhaps 
a dish of delicious fresh-caught fish. The only accom- 
paniment to these viands was the everlasting corn bread ; 
and the drink was strong coffee. We had no vegetables, 
for no one, American or Mexican, ever thought of growing 
any, in Western Texas at least. At certain seasons of 
the year however the Mexicans used to gather the young 
flower stalks of the magie plant, and the tender shoots 
of the nopal, or prickly pear, when they were about as 
large as a hen's egg. Both of them were very good 
boiled, especially the latter, which has a flavour of 
asparagus about it. At first, I confess, one misses 
vegetables very much ; and bread and meat day after 
day, for months together, gets somewhat monotonous, 
but, pace the vegetarians, it can't , be an unwholesome 
diet, for many Americans, and vast numbers of Mexicans, 
lived and thrived on it, and it alone, for years. 

It should be borne in mind, however, that the people 
who lived on this diet led active lives in the open air, 
otherwise it might not have suited them so well. 

Early in January 1864 I received an order to send a 
detachment of twenty-five of my men to join a Major 
Hatch, and serve with him in an expedition into 
the Indian territory, away up in the mountains to the 
north-west. The detachment was to go under com- 
mand of my 1st Lieutenant, whilst I remained on the 
frontier with the rest of the company. 

The Comanches had been more troublesome than 
usual, and had raided the upper settlements, murdering, 
burning ranches, and driving off stock wholesale. The 
authorities therefore determined they should be rigor- 
ously followed up, and the war, if possible, carried into 
the enemy's country, for a change ; more especially as, 
contrary to custom, the Indians had, on this occasion, 



324 A LONG SCOTTf 

carried off some unhappy women and children captives 
with them. 

The season of the year was most unfavourable for 
such an expedition, which I knew must be most trying 
for the men ; and knowing more of Indian fighting, 
and of the country, than my Lieutenant, I determined 
to go myself. Accordingly I reported myself in Major 
Hatch's camp two days after the receipt of the 
order. He had fifty men with him, fairly mounted, but 
very inferior to my boys in every other respect. 

The next day I was sent on ahead with my men, 
to impress cattle for the command, which had to be 
driven along with us for provisions. Having every- 
thing ready I awaited the command at a creek called 
Piedra Pinta, where, the very morning of its arrival, 
I learned that the fresh trail of a large band of Indians 
going down to the lower settlements had been seen just 
to the east of us. I urged the Major to stay where he 
was with his command, to guard the passes into the 
mountains, whilst I sent an express to my company 
to take the trail, when if they didn't come up with the 
Indians themselves, they would probably drive them 
into our hands. But he knew better, or thought he did, 
and insisted on following the trail himself. 

Of course I could only obey, but I sent an express to 
my second in command, ordering him to get on the trail 
forthwith and follow it as fast as he could. If he had 
only obeyed his orders, he most likely would have driven 
the Comanches back to us ; but he too knew better, 
and instead of following the trail struck across country 
to where he thought the Indians would make for, in- 
tending to waylay them on their return. The savages 
however, thinking my whole company had gone on the 
expedition, took their time, killed three men, drove 
off a good " caballado," and made their exit by another 
route, to the intense disgust of the boys. So much for 
making cocksure of knowing the movements of Indians ! 



INDIAN SKETCHES 325 

We of Major Hatch's command of course missed the 
Indians too, and they got off scot free. We had also lost 
valuable time in this wild-goose chase, and the original 
raiding band we set out after had of course distanced us 
completely, so that we had no chance of coming up with 
them before they got back to their fastnesses. 

Now, to add to our difficulties, we were called off on 
another false scent, which Major Hatch followed with 
alacrity. He had sent a scouting party up to Presidio, 
on the Rio Grande, who returned with a yarn that two 
companies of Federal troops from California were 
coming down on Fort Lancaster, on the Pecos, and 
even now must have taken it. I told him I didn't 
believe a word of it, since the man who would attempt 
to march an unsupported force like that right across 
from California, at that season of the year, was only 
fit for an asylum. But he wouldn't listen to reason. 
So to Fort Lancaster we went, a week's march there 
and back, only to find the whole story was a hoax, and 
no Yankees were within hundreds of miles of the place ! 
After a brief rest, which we were obliged to give the 
horses after this useless marching and counter-marching, 
we returned to Piedra Pinta, there to resume our original 
scout into the Indian country. 

Piedra Pinta, as the Texans called it, though it was 
properly " Piedra Pintada," or Painted Rock, was a 
fast-running, shallow creek flowing for some distance 
between steep cliffs, on many of which were paintings 
made by the Indians. Some of these were mere signs, 
left by a raiding band, to give information to their com- 
rades who might pass that way. But others were rude 
sketches of the white men they had slain, and the scalps 
and other trophies they had taken in their raids. The 
colours they invariably used were red, white, and blue, 
but how they obtained them I don't know. 

The weather grew colder and colder as we left the 
lowlands, till at last, when we were well in the mountains, 



326 A LONG SCOUT 

we all suffered much from it, for from the nature of the 
service we could carry no extra clothing, and had but 
one blanket apiece. Moreover we were obliged to be 
very sparing with our rations to make them last out 
the trip. The second day's march took us well beyond 
the farthest settlements, and that night we camped at 
the San Felipe springs, which are the most remarkable 
I ever saw. They are the sources of a small stream 
of the same name which runs into the Rio Grande, and 
the two of them rise from the bottom of an immense 
rock-basin. The water, which is said to be unfathom- 
able in depth, is a beautiful clear blue colour, and full 
of mountain trout. What the depth really is I don't 
know, but I heaved in a good big rock, and watched 
it sink down and down in the crystal pool till it dwindled 
to a speck and then vanished, apparently without 
touching bottom. What a splendid site for a cattle 
ranch this spot was ! for there was the best of water, 
and all the surrounding land for many miles carried, even 
at that season, a great crop of grass. 

Our next camp was at Devil's River, where were more 
Indian paintings, only this time in a cave. They were 
much the same as those at Piedra Pintada, though one 
quite recent artistic effort had apparently been made 
for our special benefit, as it depicted quite a large number 
of warriors with their bows and arrows, many of them 
carrying what looked like scalps. 

We had now reached a fine game country, and in the 
ravines running back from the river saw many bears ; 
whilst now and then a herd of antelopes, headed by some 
veteran leader, would come galloping up to within thirty 
yards or so, stand stock still for a minute or two, and then, 
having satisfied their curiosity, scamper off as fast as 
they came, in ever- widening circles. Scanty as our 
rations necessarily were, the boys were sorely tempted 
to shoot some of the antelopes, and I had hard work to 
stop them. On such business as we were engaged in, 



COMANCHE DELICACIES 327 

it would have been madness to run the risk of alarming 
Indian scouts, who for all we knew might be lurking 
near by. So the game went untouched, and the boys 
grumbled, but obeyed orders. 

At this camp some of the boys brought me lumps of ice, 
many inches thick, as a curiosity. I should have been 
better pleased if they could have brought some fuel ; 
for all we had were some stalks of dry " bears' grass," 
and what, in border lingo, are called "buffalo chips." 
These together were barely sufficient for cooking purposes, 
and left no surplus for warming our chilled blood. 

Near our next camp, by a big water-hole called " Yellow 
Banks," from the colour of the water, we found fresh 
Indian sign, and the remains of a recently slaughtered 
horse. These Comanches esteem horse-marrow the 
greatest delicacy in the menu, and, epicures that they 
are, will often kill an animal for the marrow in its bones, 
leaving the rest of the carcase for the buzzards and 
coyotes. These latter follow hard on the Indians' 
trail to pick up any unconsidered trifles left behind in 
their camps, and, artful, sneaking, furtive brutes that 
they are, somewhat closely resemble, in many of their 
ways, the " humans " they scavenge for. 

I think I have already mentioned that all these Indians 
in Texas are fond of horse flesh, preferring it to beef ; but 
what they like best of all is mu e flesh, so the owner of a 
mule in these parts has to keep a sharp look-out, if he 
doesn't want to have it run off. In my time the stock- 
men didn't go in much for mules, as they are no good for 
cattle-running, but there were plenty of them in Mexico. 

Our next march lay over " Deadman's Pass," a steep 
and narrow defile in the mountains on the trail to El 
Paso, on the Rio Grande. At this spot, a couple of years 
before, a considerable party driving cattle into Mexico 
had been waylaid by the Comanches, and killed to a man; 
hence its ill-omened name. It was the very place for 
such an ambush, for the steep mountain sides that closed 



328 A LONG SCOUT 

in on the track were strewn with huge boulders, and 
two hundred resolute men could easily have held it 
against two thousand. 

A few miles beyond the pass we struck the Devil's 
River again, close to Fort Hudson, which before the war 
had been a U.S. post capable of accommodating two 
companies of cavalry. It was now a complete ruin, 
everything but the adobe walls, which wouldn't 
burn, having been burnt by the Indians. Wandering 
round the ruined fort, I came on the little graveyard 
hard by it, the last resting-place of some dozen brave 
fellows who had once guarded this solitary, far-away 
outpost of civilisation, and probably had fallen victims 
to their crafty foes. Once carefully tended, the graves, 
and the simple mementos at their heads, were rapidly 
falling to decay, like their unconscious tenants, and one 
sadly wondered what were the life-stories lying buried 
in that neglected spot, and whether those who perchance 
still mourned their loss knew of their desolate resting- 
place, where only the mournful wolves and weird owls 
sang their dirges. 

Passing on from this melancholy ruin, we marched up 
the valley of the river and camped that night at Peccan 
Spring, a noble basin of clear blue water, though not 
so fine as the San Felipe. Here again were abundant 
Indian sign, comparatively fresh, and we began to hope 
that we might before long come up with the band. Here, 
too, was more game than ever, antelope and javaline 
(wild hogs) being very numerous. Buffalo sign were all 
round the springs too, and now on the hillsides we began 
to see a few black-tailed deer, a large species with 
tufted tails, which is only found in the mountains near 
the upper Rio Grande. As we rode along we often 
flushed coveys of quail, of which there are many varieties 
in Texas, the most beautiful being a rather large one 
with a glossy blue head and neck and silvery specks 
on the body-feathers. 



A WONDERFUL TRAILER 329 

As the Indian sign was so very plain, and the band 
couldn't be very far ahead of us, I was ordered to take 
sixteen of my boys to scout on the trail and bring 
back what information I could glean to Major Hatch, 
who remained in camp with the rest of the command. 
We took no pack-animals, but just four days' rations in 
our malletas, and with us went the best trailer and 
Indian fighter I have ever met in all my frontier service. 
This was Dan Westfall of the Leona, so called from a 
terrible adventure that befell him in a little cabin he 
owned on that creek. 

In some ways he much resembled Fenimore Cooper's 
hero " Deerslayer " in his mode of life, for he had made 
his living by hunting and trapping on the borders of the 
Indian country, and was in great request as a guide 
whenever Indians were to be followed. No trail was too 
indistinct, or difficult for him, and he was up to every 
dodge and manoeuvre of the wily Red Man. With the 
old-fashioned long Kentucky rifle, which he always 
carried over his shoulder, whether afoot or on horse- 
back, he was a dead shot, and being as cool a hand in a 
tight place as ever I met, was invaluable for such work 
as we were engaged on. He was remarkably " still 
of his tongue," and it was rarely one could get him to 
talk of his doings ; but now and then, sitting round the 
camp fire, when the day's work was done, he would open 
out to one or two friends, and was always worth listening 
to. On one such occasion, on this very trip, I got him to 
tell the story of his escape on the Leona, and a wonderful 
one it was, which perhaps it may be interesting to tell 
in another chapter, when we have done with this scout. 

I kept the trail with Westfall and another guide, 
about three hundred yards ahead, the rest following in 
Indian file. The country consisted of stony, bare 
ridges, with only here and there a little brush, and the 
trail on such hard ground was not easy to follow. But 
Westfall kept on, hour after hour, and never seemed for 



330 A LONG SCOUT 

one moment in doubt, even when to eyes like ours, 
accustomed to Indian sign, no vestige of a trail was 
visible. His eyes were fixed on the ground as he rode 
along, never speaking a word, never turning or hesitating ; 
it was more like a hound following a line with unerring 
nose, than a human being guided by vision. 

That night we camped, as soon as the light failed us, 
without water, on one of these bare ridges, and I took 
my turn of guard with the rest. Nor, when it was over, 
could I sleep ; for I knew the Indians, in unknown 
numbers, were not far off, and in such an exposed position 
a surprise would have been fatal. Soon after we started 
in the morning, I saw, far away to the south-west, two 
columns of smoke, some miles apart, rising straight up 
in the still morning air. I touched Westfall on the arm, 
and pointed. "As I thought," he said, " the darned 
critters are making for beyond the Pecos. A bad country 
to follow 'em in : too much brush." Presently the smoke 
disappeared ; the fires had been put out, and the Indians 
were on the move again. 

All that day we rode on over much the same country, 
following each other in Indian file, silent and alert. 
Much the same, only with this addition, that now we 
were in a region where every sort of scrubby, prickly 
cactus grew and flourished, and made riding a difficulty. 
The commonest kind was one the boys called the " bayonet 
cactus," a sturdy thing growing only about six inches 
high, but studded with thorns as stiff and as sharp as 
a penknife. Do what they would the unfortunate 
horses couldn't help treading on them, and several were 
badly lamed, notably one of the two I had with me. 

No water the previous night and no water all day 
had given us all a pretty bad thirst, the unfortunate 
horses suffering even more than their riders. But just 
before nightfall the trail led us to a rocky basin that 
held enough water to give us, horses and all, a good drink 
round, and then to fill our canteens. The Indians had 



SWIMMING EL RIO PUERCO 331 

camped here, and killed and eaten a cow, as we thought, 
about two days before. So it was evident they were 
taking things leisurely and, so far, had no idea they were 
being followed. After a couple of hours' rest I therefore 
started again and marched on well into the night, by the 
light of a brilliant moon, camping at last not far from the 
Pecos River. 

" Pecos " is a corruption of the Mexican name for the 
stream, which is Rio Puerco, or Pig River — I presume from 
the dirty colour of its waters and the muddy character 
of its banks. 

When next day the trail led us to the river the prospect 
was not inviting, for the current ran strong and deep, 
and quite 150 yards wide. On our side there was no 
timber to make rafts ; so there was nothing for it but 
a swim in the ice-cold water, and some of the boys 
couldn't swim at all. These, and indeed some of the 
others, were very unwilling to cross under these condi- 
tions, so there was nothing to be done but to give them a 
lead, which I knew they wouldn't refuse to follow. 

After some prospecting up and down stream, I at 
last found a place where the banks shelved on either 
side and there was only about fifteen yards of swimming 
to be done. Here we crossed safely, and, what is more, 
kept our arms and provisions dry. Of course we all, 
swimmers and non-swimmers, kept hold of our horses ; 
but two of the latter, in their fright, let go, and were 
nearly drowned, when we fished them out with our 
" lariats." It was a great relief when all were safely 
over, and I confess that, though not one of those who 
hanker after a fight, I would rather have fought Indians, 
or anything else, under fair conditions, than swim that 
stream. We were of course as wet as drowned rats, and, 
to add to our discomfort, a cold drizzling rain set in, so 
that our plight was miserable enough for the rest of that 
day. But what befell us across the Pecos must be 
reserved for another chapter. 



CHAPTER X 

westfall's story 

When we had straightened up a bit after the crossing, 
we rode on again for about two hours through, as Westfall 
had foretold, a brushy country with, here and there, 
a little timber on it. A risky country to follow Indians 
in with so small a force as mine. Every man therefore 
kept his loaded rifle unslung and we advanced very 
slowly, with scouts out wide on either flank, and Westfall 
and myself following the trail well ahead of the rest. 
In this order we crossed a wide shallow stream, the 
name of which was unknown to any of us, with still 
thicker brush on the far side. 

It was now growing dusk, and I therefore halted my 
party in a mott of thickish timber, where we might 
have some chance of defending ourselves if attacked. 
Though, as far as we could see, there was no Indian sign 
about, I took every precaution to guard against a sur- 
prise. The horses were picketed just inside the mott, 
and four sentries were posted a short distance outside it. 
The drizzling rain still fell and the moon was hidden 
behind heavy clouds, so that there was but little light, 
which was in our favour ; for if we were attacked, the 
enemy couldn't see us in our shelter. 

Now the boys, thoroughly drenched, and miserably 
cold, begged so hard for a fire to boil some coffee on, that 
against my better sense I consented, and a small one was 
lighted in the^ centre of the mott. The coffee certainly 
was very grateful, and seemed to me the most delicious 
brew I ever tasted ; but it nearly cost us our lives. The 



ON THE DEFENSIVE 333 

coffee done, I saw the fire put out, and then the boys 
lay down to sleep if they could ; but not before I had 
given them strict orders that no one was to fire a shot, 
or even to utter a sound without my orders, if by chance 
we were attacked. 

Presently all was still in the camp, and not a sound 
was to be heard save the stamping of the horses and 
the heavy breathing of the weary men, who, cold and 
wet notwithstanding, seemed fast asleep. It was not 
my turn for guard, which I always took with the rest, but 
I felt so uneasy, partly on account of that blessed fire, 
that I couldn't sleep. So I spent the weary hours of 
that long night creeping as noiselessly as I could round 
the outskirts of the mott, and occasionally visiting the 
sentries, to make sure they were on the alert. 

It must have been towards morning, though still 
quite dark, and I was returning from a visit to the sentry 
on the lower side, when I heard some of the horses give 
quick, uneasy snorts, and in another moment the sentry 
on the upper side came running in with an arrow sticking 
in the fleshy part of his arm. The other three got 
back unharmed in double quick time, and sooner than 
it takes to tell, the boys were aroused, and standing to 
arms. 

No word was spoken on our side, and as noiselessly as 
possible I had the horses brought into the middle of the 
mott, out of harm's way. 

Peering out in the dim light one could see the 
Comanches were a strong band, probably 150 in number, 
some few of whom were armed with rifles. Evidently 
they didn't know our strength, or our weakness, and 
their game was to find it out if possible. They came, 
yelling and screaming, at full gallop up to within twenty 
or thirty yards of our shelter, and then halting, poured 
in a volley from their bows and rifles. We all this 
time stood silently behind the cover of the trees, and 
suffered no harm from the shooting. 



334 WESTFALL'S STORY 

Finding they couldn't draw our fire, and not caring 
to charge in on us while our rifles were loaded, they 
ceased firing, and set to work cursing and taunting us 
as cowards, in very voluble Mexican. One big buck 
Indian, who stood not twenty yards from me, was 
certainly a master of the art of cursing, and so irritated 
me that I was sorely tempted to drop him in his tracks. 
All the time he orated and jumped about, flourishing 
his tomahawk, I had him covered with my rifle, and 
how my fingers itched to pull the trigger ! But better 
sense prevailed, and I let him scream on unharmed. 

With a power of language I cannot hope to repro- 
duce, he anathematised us as cowards, including in 
the same category all our relations paternal and maternal ; 
then told us how many scalps and horses there were 
in their camp, if we dared to go and get them. All 
this time I neither spoke nor moved, only watched my 
friend, finger on trigger, and rifle at the ready. 

Standing a few yards from my post was a young 
and excitable Irishman named McCarthy. Up to 
now he had held his tongue, and stood quite still, like 
the rest of us ; but when the big buck shifted his ground 
opposite to McCarthy, and appeared to address his 
uncomplimentary remarks to him personally, it was 
more than his Celtic blood could stand in silence. He 
couldn't speak Spanish, or Mexican, as we always called 
the lingo, but he knew that " cobarde " meant coward, 
and he wasn't going to be called that for nothing. Out 
he jumped from behind his cover, and shouted in the 
richest of Cork brogues ; " Coward bedad am I, ye red 
divvil ? I'll let ye see ! " and was going to pot my 
friend the buck with his rifle. But the moment he 
spoke, and almost before he had finished his defiance, 
a rifle shot rang out from amongst the band of Indians, 
and over went poor Pat. I thought he was killed to a 
certainty, for he lay quite still for a few minutes. Pre- 
sently, however, he scrambled to his feet and, picking 



McCarthy silenced 335 

up his rifle, beat a hurried retreat to his tree, with all 
the talk knocked out of him. He had had a most 
wonderful escape, for the bullet had struck the broad 
brass clasp of his pistol-belt in a glancing direction, and, 
save that all the wind was knocked out of him, he was 
unhurt. 

I think it must have been about two hours that the 
Comanches kept up this infernal din, during which time 
the boys obeyed orders, and neither answered nor 
returned the fire. Then, quite puzzled by our silence, 
the Indians drew off to their own camp, to my great 
relief. All that time I made sure they would charge 
in on us every minute, and had they done so, but few, 
if any, would have lived to tell the tale of that night's 
leaguer. 

I don't quite know why they didn't charge, but Indians 
are very wary and suspicious beings, and it is difficult to 
fathom their motives. Probably they thought we must 
be a strong party, having followed them so far up country : 
then our absolute silence, and the holding of our fire, 
possibly made them suspect we were waiting for day- 
light to attack them with greater advantage. Any- 
way they cleared out, and when I came to reckon up 
the casualties, found that only three horses and the 
sentry had been wounded by arrows, and none of them 
seriously. 

We remained in our position for some hours, and it 
was not till after I had very carefully reconnoitred the 
surrounding brush, to make sure the enemy had really 
retired, that I moved my little party out and drew 
off in the direction of the Pecos again. Very warily 
and cautiously we retreated, not feeling sure, for the 
first day or two, that the Comanches were not following 
us. I did not take the back trail, but struck higher 
up the river, in the hope of finding a better crossing, 
which we eventually did, and returned to camp in six 
days, where I reported my doings to the Major. 



336 WESTFALL'S STORY 

We had pretty nearly finished our provisions before 
we started back, but managed well enough on coffee 
once a day, and antelope meat, without bread of any 
sort. By the by, I think this class of venison is about 
the meanest stuff you can find in the shape of meat, 
being lean and dry and tasteless to a degree. It took 
us six days' steady marching to rejoin the command, 
for our horses were a good deal done up, and several 
had been lamed by the bayonet-cactus thorns. 

As soon as we had got well away from the Comanche 
band and there was no longer any fear of their following 
us, we made ourselves as comfortable as circumstances 
would permit, and, when wood could be found, indulged 
ourselves with good camp-fires at night. Round these 
we smoked and yarned far into the night, if the fire 
was good enough ; for all of us were frontiersmen, and 
most of us had had experiences of one kind or another, 
and more or less interesting. But none of us could 
compare with Dan Westfall, whose life for nearly thirty 
years had been one of adventure ; first on the prairies 
of the great West, amongst the Sioux Indians ; then 
on the wide stretching plains between the Missouri and 
the Rockies, even before the most adventurous emigrant 
had dared to push his way across that awful desert. 
When tired of killing buffalo for their " robes," he 
had hunted grizzlies on the foothills of the Rockies, 
and slain many a wapiti and mountain sheep on the 
higher slopes. These were his pastimes, or lighter 
occupations ; his serious business was that of trailer, 
or guide, to many an out-of-the-way U.S. post or fort 
on the confines of civilisation. And it was that business 
that brought him down to Texas, a few years before the 
war, moved thereto by one of the officers with whom 
he had served, and who was taking over one of the 
posts on the Rio Grande frontier. 

On this scout across the Pecos, Westfall and I had 
camped together, and shared each other's rations. I 



ROUND THE CAMP FIRE 337 

had known him for some time, and had always admired 
his sterling qualities and indomitable pluck, but in the 
closer intimacy of this expedition quite a friendship 
had sprung up between us, which lasted till I left the 
country. It was the night before we rejoined the com- 
mand, and Westfall, Jack Vinton and I were enjoying 
the warmth of a good big fire in a sheltered hollow, 
whilst we smoked and chatted. The talk was chiefly 
between Vinton and myself, for the hunter was, as usual, 
more inclined to listen than to use his tongue. We were, 
I remember, discussing the tactics of the Comanches, 
when they had us penned in that mott, and Vinton said : 
" If they hadn't been cowards they would have rushed 
us out of that fast enough." Then Westfall spoke. 
" Don't you run your head agin that idea, Jack, or it'll 
likely bring you to trouble afore long. Injuns is no 
cowards, but they're skeery o' traps — skeery as wolves. 
That's how them Lepans didn't raise my har, over 
on the Leona. They suspicioned it was a trap." " Tell 
us the story, Dan," I said, " and I'll brew another pan 
of coffee, if you will." And he, probably because he 
was in a talkative mood for a wonder, told us the follow- 
ing yarn, which I will retell in my own language : 

About six years before, Westfall was living on a small 
ranch on the Leona Creek, about thirty miles from the 
Frio. With him lived a Frenchman, who was his sole 
companion ; both were bachelors, and of course looked 
after themselves. Though in Texan parlance the place 
was called a " ranch," it was merely a two-roomed 
cabin, the walls of which were split poles, and the roof 
" clap-boards," or riven timber. It was enclosed by a 
fence of stout pickets, forming a small yard round it. 
There were no windows, and the floor was of beaten 
earth ; just such a poor little place as was common 
enough in those days on the outskirts of civilisation. 
When not engaged as trailer, or guide, for one of the 
frontier posts, Westfall and his friend spent their time 

22 



33S WESTtfALL'S STORY 

in hunting deer and antelope, or the wild cattle which 
were then pretty plentiful in the thickets of the Leona, 
varying these occupations by trapping wolves and 
other " varmint " for their skins. 

It was a lovely spot he had chosen for his cabin, 
as I can testify ; for hard by, the Leona ran between 
high banks, shaded by splendid walnut and " Peccan " 
trees, whilst in front stretched the boundless prairie, 
shining golden in the setting sun-light. Before the 
cabin stood a giant live-oak, and almost from beneath 
its roots bubbled up a clear, cool spring of water. 

Now the Leona was the centre of the old hunting 
grounds of the Lepan Indians, and was a district much 
frequented by them even in those days. But Westfall 
was too well used to Indians of all sorts, and their ways, 
to be scared at them ; nevertheless he never stirred out 
unless armed with his deadly Kentucky rifle and six- 
shooter, and kept a wary eye open for any sign of their 
presence, thereby often giving timely notice to out- 
lying settlers that they were in the country. It was 
perhaps not an ideal location for a nervous man, but 
then Westfall wasn't troubled with that complaint ; 
and as game was abundant, and it was handy for his 
scouting work with the U.S. troops, the place suited 
him well enough. 

He and his chum had lived in the cabin nearly a year, 
without molestation, when one morning in the early 
summer time they returned from fishing in the creek to 
rest during the heat of the day. The trees were in 
summer foliage, and the moon was at the full, a time 
that Indians always choose for their raids ; but no 
fresh sign had been seen, and neither of them had 
any suspicion that the Lepans were out on the war- 
path. 

The water-bucket was empty, and the Frenchman 
stepped out to the spring, just beyond the fence, to 
fill it. As he turned back to enter the yard, an appalling 



A GRIM FIGHT FOR LIFE 339 

Indian yell burst from the thicket behind him, and he 
.'opped his bucket and ran for his life. But he had 
no chance ; the Indians had made sure of their victim, 
and he fell, transfixed by three arrows, mortally wounded 
at WestfalTs feet, who, the moment he heard the yell, 
had jumped to the door, rifle in hand, to cover his friend's 
retreat. As he did so his favourite dog, a large and 
fierce one, dashed out to attack the Indians, but presently 
crawled back with an arrow through his body. His 
master, who had already dragged the wounded French- 
man inside, opened the door to let the poor dog in, 
and received a bullet wound in his thigh and two arrows 
in his body. The Lepans, seeing he was hit, made a 
dash for the house, but Westfall, who was an unerring 
shot with the rifle, dropped two of them in their tracks, 
and the rest fell back for the moment, giving him time 
to close the door. Fortunately there were three loaded 
rifles in the house, and, in addition, his own and the 
Frenchman's six-shooter. 

His respite was but brief, for the Indians, recovering 
from their check, burst into the yard again with furious 
yells. But Westfall, wounded as he was, meant to sell 
his life dearly ; and if he was to die, many " braves " 
would die with him. Firing, through the openings be- 
tween the picket wall, the two loaded rifles, and then 
emptying his revolver into the crowd, he killed one and 
badly wounded several more, and once again the savages 
gave way, with howls of rage and terror. Then he 
reloaded his weapons as quickly as he could, and, for 
a few minutes, knelt by the wall — for already he was too 
weak to stand — grimly awaiting the next assault. He 
had no hope of escape, for outside the fence were a couple 
of dozen Lepans, howling for his blood ; and he was alone 
with his dead friend, and his dead dog, and gradually 
growing weaker and weaker from loss of blood. Faintly 
to his ears came the sound of the Indians' shouts and 
taunts, and their challenges to the supposed defenders 



340 WESTFALL'S STORY 

to come out and fight ; then all was silence, for he had 
swooned. 

How long he lay in that deathly swoon he didn't know, 
but when he recovered consciousness the moonlight was 
shining in between the crevices of the wall, and all was 
still. As he slowly raised himself on one arm, for he 
was weak and faint from loss of blood, a bar of light fell 
across the upturned face of the dead Frenchman by his 
side, and he remembered what had happened. But 
why the Indians hadn't scalped him and his friend he 
couldn't understand ; they certainly hadn't, for his 
hair was still upon his head. 

If they were really gone they must have thought, from 
the rapid firing, and their heavy losses, that several men 
were in the house, and so dared not attack again. Then 
too the dead silence that followed the last volley, when 
Westfall had fainted, probably made them fear a trap, 
of which they are always suspicious. But the first thing 
to be done was to draw the arrows, and staunch his still 
bleeding wounds ; then he would crawl out, and see how 
the land lay. 

He took a drink of whiskey, which fortunately was 
handy, and then, with desperate pain, pulled out the 
arrows, and bound up his wounds with strips of his 
shirt. Next, after a brief rest, he opened the door, 
and, trailing his rifle after him, crawled out into the 
yard. There lay, close to the door, a dead Lepan, 
with his arms by his side as he fell. He no doubt was 
the last one killed ; the other two had been removed. 
Dragging himself outside the yard, he saw his other two 
hounds lying lanced and dead ; and all around tracks 
of blood were visible in the moonlight, left by the 
wounded savages. 

He lay long with his ear to the ground. Sound there 
was none save the nameless voices of the night, and the 
distant howling of the coyotes. The Lepans seemed to 
have gone. 



A MAN OF IRON WILL 341 

Exhausted, and almost hopeless, he got back to the 
cabin and laid himself down on his bed till daylight 
came. He was parched with thirst, and there was no 
water in the house ; but drink he must, so dragged 
himself to the spring, and drank long and deeply, and 
was refreshed. All that day he lay on the bed, thinking 
what he should do. It was clear he couldn't remain 
long in the house with those two ghastly companions, 
and he hadn't strength to remove them. 

The nearest place where he could get help was Fort 
Inge, and that was nearly thirty miles away. It was 
hopeless to drag his wounded limb that weary road ; 
better to die where he was, or crawl into the brush and 
hide himself there, like some stricken animal. That 
was his first thought ; then the indomitable spirit of the 
man revived, and he resolved to try that awful journey. 
He knew he couldn't possibly do it unaided, but there 
was the bare chance a scouting party might find him ; 
and it was at any rate better to die on the road than in 
that awful place. 

Having made up his mind, he ate a little of the cooked 
food which luckily was in the house, and lay quiet till 
nightfall. It would be cooler travelling by moonlight, 
and the Indians, if still in the neighbourhood, would 
be less likely to see him. As soon as it was dark then, 
he took his six-shooter, a little dried venison, a large 
flask with whiskey, which he filled up with water at the 
spring, and set off to crawl to the fort. Did ever such 
a traveller before attempt such a journey ? 

For two days and nights he dragged himself along 
on hands and knees, tortured with pain and parched 
with thirst, such thirst as only the badly wounded know. 
Then, even his iron nature could no more, and he lay 
down, as he thought, to die, under the shade of a live- 
oak, by the side of the trail, ten miles from his ranch. 
There, when all hope had vanished, he was found by a 
scouting party from the fort, who had heard that the 



342 WESTFALL'S STORY 

Lepans were out, and was on the road to the Leona to 
pick up the trail. 

A rough litter was soon fixed up, and he was tenderly 
carried into the fort, where he arrived more dead than 
alive. But the post surgeon was a skilful man, and 
Westfall had a marvellous constitution, so he recovered, 
and in about three months' time was busy with his 
hunting and his Indian trailing, just as if nothing had 
happened. 

This was the story he told, and I believe every word of 
it was true ; for I had heard long before at Fort Inge of 
how he was found on the trail, and carried thither in 
that awful plight. 

When he had finished, he handed me his beloved rifle. 
' ' Count them notches under the stock cap," he said ; 
there's one for every Lepan I've wiped out with her since 
that day, an' I guess I'm nearly level with the varmints 
now." There were fourteen tallies on the stock, and 
room for more ! 

The Westfall ranch was deserted, and wholly gone to 
ruin and decay, when last I saw it, but just before what 
had been the door was a grassy mound, beneath which 
sleeps the hapless Frenchman ; and at its head a rude 
cross placed there by Westfall in memory of his dead 
friend. 



CHAPTER XI 

THE DESERTERS SURRENDER 

When we returned to the command, we found it had 
been strengthened by the arrival of a Mexican Company 
under the command of a Captain Pattinia, who knew 
the Rio Grande country pretty well. The Major was so 
uplifted by this accession of strength that he was greatly 
minded to march off to Fort Lancaster again, to attack 
another imaginary force of "Feds" said to be in that 
neighbourhood. This time, however, we managed to 
dissuade him from such a wild-goose chase, and got him 
to set about our legitimate business of Indian-hunting ; 
not that I, for one, had much hope of catching them 
with such an unwieldy command as ours, operating in 
such a country as they had retired to. 

We marched for Beaver Lake, at the head of Devil's 
River, and camped there at 2 p.m. on the second day, 
halting thus early since that was the last water we should 
touch for fifty miles. We had not been camped more 
than an hour when the picket-guard came riding in to 
report that a small party of Indians had been seen driving 
a band of horses. They were coming in the direction 
of the lake, and would pass the head of the ravine in which 
our camp was placed, and which completely hid us from 
their view. In a moment every one, from the Major 
down, was in a frantic state of excitement ; men were 
running hither and thither, saddling their horses and 
setting out to attack the Indians, without any order or 
method. 

Seeing that this confusion could only end in letting 



344 THE DESERTERS SURRENDER 

the Indians escape, I got the Major to let me halt and 
dismount all but twenty picked men, and to take up 
a position with them at the entrance to the ravine, where 
was plenty of cover for an ambush. Having placed my 
men, who were mounted, and with rifles unslung, so 
that the Indians couldn't well escape us, I climbed up 
a small rise and peered through the brush to watch for 
the approach of the enemy. Presently the party, ten in 
number, driving a lot of horses before them, turned the 
shoulder of a hill and entered the valley I was watching. 
They were quite half a mile away, but I saw at a glance 
they were not Indians, but white men, from the way they 
sat their horses. When I saw this I formed my men 
across the ravine, and as the strangers came into sight 
round another corner, rode out and ordered them to halt. 

In a moment they wheeled about, and bolted as hard 
as they could gallop up the valley, and we after them, 
helter skelter. The horse I was riding was fast and the 
men soon began to string out behind me, till there were 
only five at all near. As soon as I was within hailing 
distance I ordered them to halt, or I would fire, and 
they at once dashed into a thick mott, with open 
timber round it. There they dismounted, and looked as 
if they meant to make a fight of it. Things looked ugly. 
But I was anxious to avoid useless bloodshed, so I 
waved my handkerchief as a flag of truce, and rode up 
to within some fifty steps of their position and called 
on them to surrender, promising their lives should be 
safe if they did so. No answer came, but all their rifles 
were covering me ; and the position wasn't pleasant, for 
one or more of them might have gone off by accident. 

Meanwhile my boys were coming up in twos and 
threes, and presently the leader of the party stepped to 
the front, still with his rifle at the ready, and asked 
who it was that called on him to surrender, and whose 
command it was. I told him my name, but said nothing 
about Hateli (whose reputation for good faith was 



JUST IN TIME 345 

not of the best), feeling sure that I had sufficient influence, 
backed by my own boys, to enforce due observance of 
my promise. 

The Major was coming up now, with fifty of his men ; 
so, if the men were to be spared from immediate hanging, 
there was no time to be lost. " Two minutes more, and 
if you don't surrender I attack ; but if you throw down 
your arms, your lives shall be spared." I pulled out my 
watch. My twenty boys behind me were fingering their 
rifles, all eager to charge. Slowly those minutes passed ; 
the leader, who seemed a determined fellow, hesitated 
till they were nearly gone. He glanced at the Major's 
troop coming along at a gallop, and back at his own little 
band. Evidently he was a real fighting man, and didn't 
like the thought of surrendering. But just as time ex- 
pired, his better sense prevailed. He lowered his rifle : 
" I surrender to you, and accept your conditions." 

The moment he spoke, I ordered my Sergeant to take 
their arms ; then turned my horse, and galloped back 
to meet the Major. " They are either bushwhackers 
or deserters," I said ; " but I have accepted their sur- 
render, and pledged my word their lives shall be spared." 

Now Major Hatch had much the same taste for 
hanging defenceless people as the old villain Dunn, of 
evil memory, so he received my report with an ill grace : 
" You had no right, I guess, to give any such promise. 
If they're deserters, a quick ' look up a tree ' is what 
they deserve ; but I reckon you must have your way, 
else you'll git your dander up." Having secured this 
unwilling consent I rode back to the mott, where by 
this time the men were disarmed, and placed them under 
guard of my own boys. Then we collected their horses, 
about thirty in number, and marched back to camp. 

I at once spoke to my boys about the prisoners, telling 
them I expected our present commander would be trying 
the same game with them that Dunn had so often played 
with other poor wretches before, but that I relied on 



346 THE DESERTERS SURRENDER 

them to prevent foul play, and to see that my pledged 
word was respected. " We'll see you through, Cap, you 
bet," they all said ; and I felt more easy in my mind. 
The prisoners, it turned out, were deserters, and I had 
no sympathy with them ; all I wanted was that they 
should be handed over to proper authority to stand their 
trial, and that I was determined should be done. 

I found, or rather had good ground for suspecting, that 
the old trick was about to be played with them. A weak 
guard of Hatch's own men was to be mounted over 
them ; then some of his ruffians, in the dead of night, 
would take the prisoners, without resistance from the 
guard, and hang them up a little way from camp, on 
the plea that they were trying to escape. I had known 
this done too often by Dunn, when I had no power to 
prevent it. Now I had some power I was going to 
put a stop to it. 

I went straight to the Major, and told him plainly 
that I insisted on having these men properly tied, so 
that they couldn't escape, and on having a strong guard 
mounted to protect them. He tried to laugh it off ; 
said, " If I was so mighty fond of these rascals, how could 
I be so cruel as to want to tie them ? " Then, knowing 
my man for the coward that he was, I made up my mind 
there was only one way to secure my object, and save 
my honour, and that was to commit right down mutiny. 

" Don't think, Major Hatch, you can fool me in 
this business. I know what's in your mind, and in the 
mind of your confederate, the scoundrel Luck. Plain 
speaking is best for us both. If those prisoners are 
hanged, with your connivance, whilst with your com- 
mand, your life shall pay the penalty. Now see to it 
that I haven't to shoot you." He went deadly pale, 
and I turned on my heel, knowing the prisoners wouldn't 
be hanged whilst I was alive. 

Luck was the man who, as a lieutenant in the Partizan 
Rangers, had been very prominent in the massacre of 



A WARNING FOR MR. LUCK 347 

the German prisoners after the Nueces fight, described 
in a previous chapter. He was now a private in 
Hatch's command, and was hand-in-glove with him 
in this hanging-plot, as I well knew. I therefore, to 
make assurance doubly sure, took an early opportunity 
of telling him that it would not be good for his health 
to take any part in such doings, and, I think, convinced 
him on that point. 

The unfortunate prisoners were quite aware of their 
parlous position in Major Hatch's hands, and seemed to 
look to me for protection ; so as soon as I had done with 
the Major and Mr. Luck, I stepped across to the guard 
and told their leader that he, and the rest of them, could 
sleep in peace, for I guaranteed no harm would happen 
to them. He seemed reassured, but said : "If I'd 
known that skunk Hatch was in command, I'd 
never have give in, but fought it out, as you saw 
I'd a mind to. Stranger, you didn't do just fair not to 
tell me, but I'll trust you now, for I've no one else 
I can trust." 

The following morning we resumed our march, striking 
for the Pecos above Fort Lancaster, in order to beat up 
the Indian camps from above, rather than follow the 
trail I had found, which would have been a roundabout 
road. Moreover, the Major still dreamed there were 
" Feds " in that locality, and was anxious to pass near 
it on that account. 

Very early in the morning I rode on ahead of the main 
body, with twenty men, to clear out a spring fifty miles 
away, that Westfall knew of, and which, as it was the 
only water available for nearly a hundred miles, the 
Indians would be sure to fill up. We reached the spring 
at sundown after a thirsty ride, and found it filled up 
sure enough. All hands set to work to clear it, and when 
we had about finished the command came up. It was 
now nearly 10 p.m., and it took us the rest of the night, 
and well on to midday on the morrow, to water the horses 



348 THE DESERTERS SURRENDER 

and stock, and even then many of them went short. 
Taking what water we could in our canteens, we made 
another dry march that afternoon, with another dry 
camp at night. 

By the middle of the next day, riding over an open, 
rough country abounding in game, we reached a pretty 
little running stream a few miles above Fort Lancaster. 
Here we called a halt by its pleasant banks, and revelled 
in an abundance of cool delicious water, and a plentiful 
supply of wood for the camp-fires. From this spot I 
was sent on with a small party to reconnoitre Fort 
Lancaster for the Major's imaginary " Feds," the main 
body of the command following after me. Of course 
I found no sign of the enemy, nor indeed of any other 
living creature ; and as to the fort itself, the Indians 
had burned everything about it that was consumable, 
leaving nothing but the walls standing, bare and gaunt. 

At the confluence of the two rivers, and close to the 
ruined fort, we halted two days to recruit our jaded 
stock, and here the boys killed a great number of ante- 
lopes, and caught no end of fish, so that the camp-kettles 
were well filled for a time at any rate. By this time we 
had several men on the sick-list, and many horses were so 
done up that they were unridable, and I strongly advised 
that all such, together with the prisoners, should be sent 
back under escort, since they hampered our movements. 
But my commanding officer thought differently ; though 
how he imagined sick men, lame horses, and prisoners 
could help to catch Indians, is more than I know. 

From Fort Lancaster I went on scout again ahead of 
the command, with sixteen Mexicans, detailed for the 
duty, and seven Americans who volunteered, Westfall 
again going with me as guide and trailer. 

I can't say I was anxious to take the " greasers " on 
such duty, for they are not to be depended on in a tight 
place. However, it was the Major's order they should 
go, and I had no option in the matter. We crossed the 



THE BEST MORNING BRINK 349 

Pecos by a ford and made for some Indian camps, 
located some miles beyond by our scouts, but found them 
deserted. The Comanches build no permanent villages, 
but being nomadic in their habits make temporary camps 
where grass is good and game abounds, and then after 
a while move on to " fresh fields and pastures new." 

The evening of the second day, after a dry and thirsty 
ride, we descended a steep mountain-side, down which we 
could with difficulty lead our horses, and in the valley 
found a stream of clear running water, with clumps of 
timber on its banks. On the mountain-top was another 
of these curious Indian look-outs : a shallow, wide cave, 
adorned with their hieroglyphic paintings and signs of 
all sorts. 

That night we camped in a mott convenient for 
defence, and, though it was bitterly cold, made no fire 
till an hour before dawn ; and then only sufficient to 
cook our dried beef and boil our coffee. Oh ! that 
morning brew of coffee ! No dwellers of the city can realise 
half of what it means to the poor wretch who has laid 
out on one thin blanket in the freezing air of the mountains 
through the weary night, till his teeth chatter and his 
very blood seems congealed. 

The day was as hot as the night had been cold, so, 
after working up the valley for some miles, in the hope 
of striking a leading trail, I pitched camp at midday. 
Having placed picket-guards on a mountain-top, perhaps 
half a mile away, which commanded the country for a 
considerable distance round, I lay down to take a nap. 

But my slumbers were soon disturbed by one of the 
boys on picket coming in to report that he had seen an 
Indian scout come riding down the valley, till he reached 
a point where he could see our staked horses, when 
he had turned round and galloped back for his life. 
I gave the order to saddle up at once, and sent Westfall 
and a couple of the boys on to inspect the sign and 
make sure the picket was not mistaken. Soon he came 



350 THE DESERTERS SURRENDER 

riding back to say there was no mistake, for the sign 
of an Indian horseman was plainly to be seen. 

There was every probability that this scout would 
bring down on us a large party of his friends, and the 
" greasers " began to get very nervous, as I knew they 
would at a pinch. I had that morning sent back two of 
my boys to camp to report my movements, and so had 
only five left. The Mexican Sergeant, who seemed 
thoroughly scared at the prospect of a fight, begged to 
be allowed to return to the command with his party, 
to hurry it up to our assistance, and when I refused, 
seemed inclined to go without leave. This had to be 
put a stop to at once ; so I told him, and his men, that if 
any one of them dared to leave I would have him shot 
on the spot. This quieted them for a bit, but I could 
see they were in such a funk that, if the Indians did 
come down on us, they would only be in the way. So 
after talking it over with Westfall and the other boys, 
who were all anxious to stay, I concluded after all to 
let the " greasers "go. It was by our reckoning about 
thirty-five miles, as the crow flies, to the camp, and I 
knew they would reach it by midnight, and bring the 
command to us by the middle of next day. 

Never did men get under weigh so quickly as these 
did, when they got the order to go ! They were off down 
the valley like a flash ; all but one, and he was a half- 
breed Indian, who hesitated, and then came back, say- 
ing he was ashamed to leave us. But I had given my 
orders, so I told him all he had to do was to obey, and 
he must go now with the rest. 

The " greasers " having departed, and the evening 
drawing in, Westfall and I made up our minds to look 
out for some defensible spot, where we might have a 
chance to hold our own, if attacked, as we fully expected 
to be, in the night. So we rode up the valley till we 
came to a very narrow ravine, on our left hand, shut in 
by lofty precipitous cliffs on either side ; indeed it was 



AN INDIAN STOREHOUSE 351 

more like a canon than a ravine, being only some thirty 
yards wide, and not far from its mouth grew some dwarf 
live-oaks. We tied our horses behind these, and felt 
we had got a position we could defend, for some hours 
at any rate, against a hundred Comanches. 

Two of us stood guard, whilst the other three slept ; 
but I confess I was too uneasy to sleep myself when my 
turn came ; for if the Indians did find us, I knew they 
would never leave us without taking our scalps. So 
it was a blessed relief when day broke at last, and we 
found ourselves unmolested. Promptly we saddled up 
and followed the valley, looking for the trail of the 
Indians to whom the scout belonged, which I made sure 
we must hit before long. In about an hour's time we 
struck it, coming in down a ravine that crossed our 
valley, and heading for the Rio Grande country. It 
was plain to be seen that the party was a big one, driv- 
ing a lot of loose horses. Westfall opined there were not 
less than two hundred of them, and that probably they 
were the same lot that had attacked us before. Pro- 
bably they had not attacked us now because they knew 
Alexander's command was on their track, and they 
wanted to push on with their plunder. Anyway we had 
a lucky escape. 

Near where we struck the trail, high up on the 
mountain-side, one of the boys on outlook duty found 
by accident an Indian cave, used as a kind of storehouse. 
In it were several spare lances, cooking-pots, pairs of 
leggings (the only article of clothing the mounted Co- 
manches wear) and many " cased " hides, i.e. hides scraped 
till quite transparent. 

After following the trail till we were sure of the direc- 
tion to which it was going, we turned back to the valley 
creek, to catch fish for dinner and await the command. 
Soon we had a nice lot of mountain trout broiling on 
the embers ; a feast indeed for hungry men whose 
dinners for the past two days had been of the scantiest, 



352 THE DESERTERS SURRENDER 

Just as we had finished, up rode the advance party of 
the command, much surprised to find us with our scalps 
on. The Mexicans had told them such a tale of our 
perilous position that they had struck camp directly 
they heard it, and had ridden all night to our rescue, 
though with little hope of finding us alive. 

We camped in the valley that night to rest the horses, 
and next morning followed the trail over a tremendously 
rough, hilly country ; my duty being to bring up the rear 
with the pack animals, beeves, and prisoners. No 
water all day, after leaving the creek, and none at night, 
and — perhaps worst of all — no tobacco left ! It was not 
a very cheerful state of things, for I was too thirsty to 
eat anything, and was just lying down to seek forget- 
fulness in sleep, when I was startled to hear shots and 
shouts in the direction of the guard. Running there, I 
found that the ten prisoners had made a bolt for freedom, 
and that only two had been caught. Though the whole 
camp turned out to scour the country, the other eight 
escaped in the darkness of the night, and were no more 
seen. 

Poor creatures, without horses, arms, or provisions, 
their chances of reaching any of the settlements were 
remote indeed, and probably they would die of hunger 
and thirst. Sorry as I was for their evil plight, I couldn't 
help feeling relieved by their escape, and wishing the 
other two had gone also ; for I was always uneasy lest 
some of the bloodthirsty villains in the command should 
take them and hang them out of hand. 

But soon prisoners, Indians, and all other minor 
troubles were forgotten in the dreadful sufferings we 
now had to endure for want of water, as will be set down 
in the next chapter. 



« > 







GIANT CACTI ON THE RIO GRANDE BORDER 



p. 353 



CHAPTER XII 

WATER ! OR WE DIE ! 

The next three days' march of this ill-starred expedition 
are very memorable to me, for during them not a drop of 
water could we find, and we all came near dying of thirst. 
It has often been my fate to endure the pangs of hunger, 
but I venture to say they are not to be compared to those 
of thirst. Hunger can be appeased in various ways, 
but for thirst there is only one remedy, and if that can- 
not be found, it grows hour by hour more maddening 
and unendurable. 

In that arid mountain region we were frozen by night 
and parched by the sun's rays shining down on us from 
a pitiless, cloudless sky by day. The rocks glowed 
with the fervent heat ; the very ground seemed baked 
under our feet, and for miles and miles we tramped, 
when our horses gave out, over a desolate, treeless country 
where only cacti in endless variety, each one more 
prickly than its neighbour, flourished exceedingly. I 
have no doubt the Comanches chose this route for the 
express purpose of stopping us by thirst, and the artful 
rascals nearly succeeded in killing us whilst they them- 
selves contrived to subsist on the little water they found 
in small rock-basins known to them, which they took 
care to empty before our arrival. 

If we human beings suffered tortures from thirst, 
our unfortunate horses and cattle were in even worse 
plight, for there was hardly a bite of grass for them, and 
all were lamed by the cruel thorns. As for the miser- 

353 23 



354 WATER! OR WE DIE! 

able beeves, their feet were so worn by the rocky ground 
that the trail could easily be followed by the blood they 
left behind them, and it was only with the greatest diffi- 
culty they could be urged forward. Indeed many of them 
died by the way, and were left as a prey to the buzzards 
and coyotes that attended us in the well-grounded as- 
surance that a feast would soon be forthcoming. 

The first day after the escape of the prisoners we 
found, about midday, a little off the trail, a scanty supply 
of water in a rock-basin enough to give us men a short 
drink all round, but leaving no surplus for the animals, 
and at night we camped without water. 

All next day we followed the trail, which, as far as 
we could make out, ran parallel to the Rio Grande, at 
a distance of probably forty miles, over the same barren, 
desolate country. Already some of the horses and 
beeves had to be killed, being unable to travel farther, 
but the pack-mules still held out fairly well. 

Westfall and the other guides advised that we should 
strike at once for the Rio Grande, as, in their opinion, 
we shouldn't find water otherwise for three or four days. 
But the Major was in one of his obstinate fits, and insisted 
we should follow the trail as long as possible, and when 
it was no longer possible, then make for the Rio Grande. 
Knowing nothing about Indians and their artful dodges, 
he thought they must be making for some creek or stream 
unknown to the guides. There was nothing for it there- 
fore but to obey. 

Next day again no water, for man or beast ; and our 
tongues clave to the roofs of our mouths, for it was now 
fifty-four hours since we last drank. The men were 
growing mutinous, and declared they would no longer 
follow the trail. 

That night the Major wanted to hang the two remaining 
prisoners, for the men wouldn't trouble to guard them, 
and he feared they would escape. " A good thing too," 
I answered, " if they do, poor devils, but you shan't hang 



IN THE BLUE DISTANCE 355 

them whilst I'm alive." And with that he had to be 
content. 

When the third cloudless sun rose on our misery, the 
men could no more be controlled, for we, and they, 
knew that if we didn't find water soon we should die, 
and we struck for the Rio Grande. Far away (oh, 
how far it seemed ! ) in the dim distance rose a chain of 
lofty mountains which our guides said were on the other 
side of the river. For them we steered our course, and 
tramped on mile after mile, leading our horses for the 
most part ; and still the mountains wore that tint of 
blue that only far distance gives. Should we ever reach 
the precious life-giving water that flowed at the foot of 
their slopes ? We were a hopelessly disorganised rabble 
now, and those who still had horses that could be ridden 
pressed on as fast as they could go, the Major amongst 
them. 

I was in charge of the rear of this rabble, and did all 
I could to bring along the pack animals, and the beeves 
that still could travel, for without them we should starve 
even if we lived to reach the river. But when darkness 
fell it was impossible to keep them together, for men 
and horses and cattle were mad for water. 

About midnight, I think it was, I came up to a camp 
fire, round which some of those who had pressed on 
ahead were lying utterly done up. No man greeted his 
fellow, no word was spoken ; we just threw ourselves 
on the ground and lay there in silence and despair. To 
sleep was impossible ; the pangs of thirst prevented that. 
It was two days since I had eaten anything, but hunger 
didn't trouble me — water, water was my only thought. 

A little before daybreak next morning we staggered 
to our feet and set out once more on our weary quest 
of the river. The beeves, horses, and pack animals 
that could travel had disappeared. They had gone 
straight to the river, and Westfall and I, and a few 
more, kept together and followed their trail as best 



356 WATER! OR WE DIE! 

we could. In silence, and something like despair, we 
tramped on, for, if we didn't find water in the next few 
hours, death stared us in the face. 

Now the stars began to pale, and with the first glimmer 
of dawn we saw the dim outline of the mountains we 
had striven so long to reach. Then with the full light 
of day we could see the ravines that scored their sides, 
and the forest growth on their slopes, and hope revived, 
for the river couldn't be so very far off now. " How 
far, Westfall ? " I whispered. " Fifteen miles, I reckon," 
he answered in the same tone, and we pressed on with- 
out another word. 

How long it took us I don't know, but the sun was 
high in the heavens, I remember, when we reached the 
river — only to find we couldn't get at the water, for it 
ran between precipices more than a hundred feet high, 
which were quite unclimbable. As far as the eye could 
reach it was the same, up and down stream. It was 
heartbreaking to see the beautiful clear-running water, 
so near and yet so far away ! 

The cattle-trail we had followed turned up-stream, 
and we took that direction too, hoping that the instinct 
of the animals had guided them aright. For quite 
two miles we followed where they had gone, and then 
struck an old, well-worn Indian trail evidently leading 
to a crossing, and in another mile were at the water. 
No drink I ever tasted in all my life was like that one ! 

Fortunately the stream was shallow, running over a 
hard gravelly bed ; for if it had been deep and muddy 
many of the stock would have been drowned. All 
our missing animals had got to the water ahead of us 
and many of them were standing knee-deep in the river, 
whilst others were already cropping the grass on its 
banks. When all had slaked their thirst, we crossed 
the river and climbed by the Indian trail to a plateau 
where was some grass for the stock, but not an atom 
of shade to shelter under. Then, thirst being appeased, 



A LUCKY SHOT 357 

hunger became insistent, and we cooked and ate the 
first food we had tasted for many a long hour. 

The primary wants of man and beast being satisfied, 
and all being filled with meat and drink, each after 
his own kind, everything began to wear a brighter 
aspect. We, who yesterday were a broken, hopeless 
rabble of despairing men, took a fairly rosy view of things 
in general, and if we had only had some tobacco, would 
have been quite cheerful, I believe ! 

After a sleep under Ibhe shade of my blanket, I took 
my rifle, and strolled down the stream with a couple 
Of the boys who were going fishing. Not a quarter 
of a mile from camp they halted to try a deep pool, 
and I sat on the rocks to watch them. Behind me was 
a steep escarpment of loose stones, boulder strewn, on 
the Mexican side. The stones began to rattle down, 
and I turned to see a magnificent black-tailed buck 
making off along the slope. He was broadside on, 
and the place was so steep that even he couldn't go 
very fast. But there was no time to admire his propor- 
tions, for already he was about fifty yards off ; so I got 
on to him as soon as I could. The bullet hit him just 
behind the shoulder, and with one tremendous 
bound he fell dead, and rolled down to within a few 
yards of where I sat. He was a noble-looking fellow, 
with a fine head, and, what was more important from 
our then point of view, in rare good order. Whilst 
one of the boys went back for a pack-mule the other 
one and I skinned the buck, and that night we feasted 
right royally, for there was venison and fish enough 
for the whole of my own coiffinand. 

We rested in this camp a couple of days, and had 
ample leisure to admire the wild and desolate scenery 
around us. The river, about a hundred yards in width, 
and very deep, except at its rare fords, ran clear 
and bright over its rocky bed, through a channel that 
seemed as though hewn out of the solid grey rock to 



358 WATER! OR WE DIE! 

a depth of one hundred feet and more. The country 
all around rose in mountain after mountain, like the 
waves of some vast sea, only broken at intervals by 
lofty conical peaks, and in the far distance by the still 
loftier summits of the Sierra Madre, which themselves 
seemed to melt at last into the clear blue of that 
wondrous sky. 

No grateful shade-trees were here, or luxuriant grasses, 
but rocks that pulsated with heat under the pitiless 
glare of the cloudless sun. But wherever thereTwas a 
scrap of earth that could give a foothold there was a 
cactus growing ; some many feet high, like stiff green 
poles, others only a few inches from the ground : a 
world of thorns and heat and drought. 

Desolate and forbidding as this region was, we all 
enjoyed our brief rest immensely. Whilst some of 
the boys went fishing or hunting, others were busy 
slaughtering and drying beef, and making the hides 
into mocassins ; only the inveterate gamblers and 
loafers indulged their ruling passion, and lay round 
under the shade of a blanket playing " monte " with 
greasy packs of cards. 

During the halt the Major sent a scouting party up 
the river, but they returned, after a twenty-mile ride, 
saying they could find no watering-place in all that 
distance, nor any sign of Indians. Our guides and 
the old Mexican Captain said we were about two days' 
march from San Carlos, near which was a favourite 
camping-ground of the Muscalaros Indians ; and, as the 
horses had now picked up a bit, the Major concluded 
to try to catch some of th^ tribe. It was quite hopeless 
to hunt Comanches in our then condition ; indeed they 
were more likely to hunt us, if they were aware of our 
plight and were in any force. So rather than do nothing 
at all, after all our toils and sufferings, we would have a 
try for the others, especially as their location was not 
very far out of our direct road back to the settlements. 



I 



THE MUSCALAROS' CAMP DESERTED 359 

Sending a scouting party ahead, we set off once more, 
keeping always in reach of the river. But ill-luck still 
attended us, for the scouts found the Muscalaros' camp 
had been moved long since, and a small band they came 
across cleared out at once ; and they were in no condition 
to pursue them. 

The few cattle we had left were unable to travel farther, 
so we halted long enough to kill, and cut up for drying, 
all that were fit to eat. By this time nearly the whole 
command was on foot, the horses having given out ; 
provisions were getting scarce, and it was absolutely 
necessary to return whence we came. To dream of 
hunting Indians of any sort was sheer folly ; the only 
question was how best and quickest to get back. I 
didn't like the route the Major proposed to follow, nor 
had I much faith in his guides, so I asked leave to take 
my own road with my command, and to report to him 
from my own head-quarter camp on the Leona. To 
this he agreed, so we parted the following morning, I 
taking with me the two remaining prisoners, who, not 
too well guarded, escaped near the Rio Grande, and, I 
hope, got safely over into Mexico. 

Neither Westfall nor myself, nor any of the boys, 
had ever been in that section of country before, and 
we had no compass to guide us. Moreover, to add 
to our difficulties, the weather set in misty, so that we 
couldn't see the sun for several days. On parting from 
the main body we boldly left the river and struck across 
the country in a line which Westfall was sure would 
bring us out all right, though we might perhaps suffer 
somewhat from want of water. We were leaving broken- 
down animals every day, and almost all of us were on 
foot : our meal and flour had quite given out, though 
we had still a little dried beef left, and in this condition 
it was essential to take the shortest road. It certainly 
was a risky thing to do, but I had unbounded confidence 
in my guide, which in the end was quite justified, for 



360 WATER! OR WE DIE: 

he eventually did bring us out all right, and we beat 
the Major and the rest of the command by three days. 

I don't propose to tell what befell us day by day on 
this march, for it would only be wearisome repetition 
of hardships endured, more or less cheerfully, by us all. 
Once only had I any real trouble with the boys, and 
that was on the third day we had passed without seeing 
the sun. They grew very uneasy, and thought we 
must be lost in that awful sea of rocky hills ; for, said 
they, it was impossible for any man to find his way 
without even the sun to guide him. I could see West- 
fall was getting bothered by their grumbling, and that 
it had to be stopped at once. So I fell them in, and 
told them he and I had chosen the line we were taking ; 
that we knew it was the right one, and they had to 
follow it, whether they liked it or not. All the same 
I confess I was very uneasy, and it was an immense 
relief when next morning the sun shone out, and we 
saw we were not far out of our right course. 

We were fortunate in finding a good water-hole the 
second day ; then we had a couple of dry marches ; 
and so it went on, but we were never reduced to the 
dire straits we had been in before we reached the Rio 
Grande. One day we were lucky enough to run across 
a good bunch of javalines, or peccary, near a water-hole 
on a dried-up creek, and killed four of them ; a welcome 
addition to our scanty larder. 

The morning after this we saw a column of smoke 
rising from a hollow a mile or two ahead. As this could 
only come from an Indian camp, we looked to our arms, 
and advanced in readiness for an attack, sending scouts 
before. It was an Indian camp sure enough, and the 
fresh sign showed a party of about twenty, with a big 
bunch of horses, had just left it. It was hopeless to 
follow them, for we could never come up with them, 
unless they had kindly waited for us, so I reluctantly 
kept on my way down country. 



TRACES OF THE ESCAPED PRISONERS 361 

Now Westfall spotted two mocassin-tracks on an 
old trail, leading in our right direction ; so we followed 
them, and in a few miles they brought us out on the 
lower Rio Grande. Thank goodness we had at last 
got out of the treeless waste we had wandered in so 
long, for all along the river there was fine timber, and 
we marched on under its delightful shade in much comfort. 
The hackberries, growing on low bushy trees along 
the river-bottom in great abundance, were just ripe, 
and we devoured them wholesale. The fruit, rather 
larger than currants and very sweet to the taste, is a 
great favourite with the wild turkeys, which grow exceed- 
ing fat on this dainty diet. 

Hard by where we first struck the river was another 
of the curious Indian painted caves, and in it we found 
sign of our escaped prisoners. So after all the poor 
wretches hadn't perished in the stony wilderness, and 
would probably now get safely down to some of the 
Mexican pueblos on the river. 

Turning a projecting angle of rock, a little below the 
cave, Westfall and I came suddenly on a couple of Indians, 
cooking at a small fire. They saw us before we did 
them, and vanished like snakes into the thick brush 
close by, in which it was hopeless to pursue them. They 
left behind them a fine " blue-cat " fish, nicely broiled 
on the embers, and the smell thereof was so appetising 
that we were fain to taste their cookery ; and, finding it 
most excellent, left nothing but the bones for the right- 
ful owners. 

We followed the river down to the mouth of the Pecos, 
and now reached a section well known to our guide, 
and indeed to many of the boys, so that all anxiety as 
to our route was quite at an end. Following a plain 
Indian trail leading down to the Mexican settlements, 
we crossed the Rio Grande, there very deep and swift, 
about twenty-six miles from the San Felipe springs, 
and camped by them at night. 



362 WATER! OR WE DIE! 

Our dried beef being finished, the boys were ravenous ; 
so next morning, before daybreak, I sent on a party 
to hunt up a beef at Sycamore Creek, our next halting- 
place, and have it cut up and ready for our arrival. 
When we got to camp, we found a cow had been not only 
killed and cut up, but was nearly cooked ready for us. 
I don't think the boys waited for it to be overdone, 
for they set to like so many wolves, and presently 
cleared up every scrap of meat. To watch them devour 
that cow was something like the far-famed sight of 
feeding the lions at the Zoo. 

From this camping-place we marched thirty-five 
miles to Elm Creek, all on foot ; for now, my good horse 
that had carried me with occasional rests all the journey, 
gave out and had to be led. That day's march took 
us through Fort Clark, where we got a small supply of 
meal and coffee and, more welcome than either, a little 
tobacco. Thence two long marches brought us back 
to our camp on the Leona, which we had left ten weeks 
before on this wild-goose chase ; and I think we were 
lucky not to have left our bones in that terrible thirst- 
land. 



CHAPTER XIII 

THE CALIFORNIAN RAIDERS 

When I got back to camp, after the pleasure trip with 
Major Hatch's command, I found my stores of 
ammunition, clothing, medicines, etc., had run so low 
that I was obliged to go into San Antonio for fresh 
supplies. There I found every one much excited about 
the threatened invasion of the State by the Federal 
General Banks, commonly known amongst us of the 
Confederate Service as " Commissary Banks," from his 
supposed disinclination to move without an abundance 
of creature comforts, more especially for his own use. 
He had collected a considerable force on the Red River 
between Arkansas and Texas, and boasted he would 
sweep the State of rebels. 

The gallant Magruder and his Texan boys, than 
whom there were no better fighters in the South, when 
properly led, met him just within our boundary and, 
with a far inferior force, inflicted on him a signal defeat. 
It was a gallant fight, and splendidly won, but I was 
not present at it, though my boys and I volunteered 
to a man to go with Magruder, whom we all recognised 
as a leader of men ; but it wasn't to be, for the 
authorities had other uses for us. 

An expedition was being organised to attack a body 
of three or four hundred Californians who had established 
themselves at Fort Lancaster, in the south-western part 
of the State, where they were assuming a threatening 
attitude, and attracting to themselves many deserters 
from our service. Indeed, ^desertion was at that time 
363 



364 THE CALIFORNIAN RAIDERS 

rife in Texas, and had increased to such an alarming 
extent that, especially in the west of the State, the men 
were going off in bands of from a dozen up to two hun- 
dred at a time. Many of these joined the Federal 
forces, whilst the most part scattered over the Mexican 
frontier and lived by indiscriminate plunder. 

The command of the Fort Lancaster expedition was 
given to Major Hunter, an old Texan frontiersman, 
and an able commander, who since the outbreak of the 
war had, with his company, been stationed on the 
north-western frontier. 

It was whilst we were waiting in San Antonio to know 
if we might join Magruder that the Adjutant-General of 
the State ordered me to report, with all my command, 
to Major Hunter, and to be ready to start for Fort 
Lancaster in a few days. It was a great disappoint- 
ment at the time, but Hunter was, as I afterwards 
found, a first-rate man, who thoroughly understood his 
business, and I had no cause to regret serving under 
him. 

At this time a Colonel Franks, a well-known and rather 
notorious character in Texas, was organising a force 
to recapture Brownsville, on the Rio Grande, which, 
after General Wasp's shameful skedaddle, had been oc- 
cupied by the Yankees. Franks and I were well known 
to each other, and for that very reason, I was somewhat 
surprised to find that he had begged the authorities 
to send my command with him. Though I had no 
very high opinion of the man, I was willing to join 
him, for we all thought the Federals would make a 
fight of it at Brownsville ; in which however we were 
mistaken. 

It was flattering to our vanity to be in such request, 
but, as it turned out, it was just as well the Adjutant- 
General stuck to his original order, for Franks' force 
did nothing, nor was capable of doing anything, being 
composed mainly of deserters and loafers of all sorts. 



COLONEL FRANKS THE GAMBLER 365 

These gentry flocked to the gallant Colonel's standard 
under the well-founded belief that there would be but 
little discipline, and no danger. In fact they expected 
a " good time," with plenty of gambling and a sufficiency 
of plunder. In the result the Colonel and his loafers 
lay round in camp, doing nothing, for several months 
until the Yankees evacuated Brownsville, when they 
boldly marched in and occupied it. 

Franks was, as I have said, a well-known character in 
Texas, and a type of a class of men common enough 
in the State in those days. He enjoyed the reputation 
of a " fighting man," and was I think the most inveterate 
gambler and the hardest swearer I ever met, even out 
West ; indeed his power of " language," especially 
when the luck went against him, was almost grotesque 
in its resourcefulness. With a Colonel's commission in 
his pocket, and supposed to be earnestly engaged in 
raising a regiment for State service, he was generally 
to be found in one of the most notorious gambling dens 
in San Antonio " dealing " monte with all the riff-raff 
of the place, whilst youngsters of his own regiment stood 
round " bucking " at him, i.e. backing his luck. 

Notwithstanding all this, T am bound to say that 
" Old Rip," as he delighted to be called, was fairly 
popular with most of the people, being hail-fellow- 
well-met with everybody, free with his money, and 
equally free with his six-shooter. As to his military 
experience, he had for a short time, years before, com- 
manded a ranging company on the frontier, and had 
also commanded the volunteers who fought the Mexican 
bandit and guerilla leader Cortinas, when he raided into 
Texas in 1859. 

Early in April 1864, at the very time I received the 
order to report to Major Hunter, a law was passed 
changing the conditions of service of my frontier com- 
pany, and making the men liable to serve wherever 
they might be required, either in or out of the State. 



366 THE CALIFORNIAN RAIDERS 

That being so, I asked, and obtained, permission to 
resign my commission and hold a fresh election, which 
I thought was only fair to the boys, though if I had 
not been re-elected I should have had to serve in the 



The boys were much disgusted at the arbitrary changes 
in their service conditions, but were somewhat cheered 
when they knew they were to go to Fort Lancaster with 
Hunter, who was well known to most of them, though 
they would have preferred going with Magruder. The 
day after my return I held the election for officers under 
the new conditions. They were perfectly free to choose 
whomsoever they liked, and somewhat to my surprise, 
and much to my gratification, they re-elected me almost 
unanimously. 

My boys had by this time quite got over the effects 
of the last abortive expedition, and, having provided 
themselves with fresh horses, were fit to go anywhere 
and do anything in the way of fighting they might be 
asked to. Two days were spent in preparing rations, 
looking thoroughly to saddlery and equipment, and 
then we rode out, seventy-five strong, to meet Major 
Hunter at Dhanis, on the Eagle Pass road, distant about 
thirty miles from camp. I reported myself that evening 
in his camp, where he had already a command of about 
five hundred Rangers, all picked frontiersmen, well 
armed and mounted. He only waited our arrival to 
start ; so next morning at daybreak we broke camp, 
and set off on our three-hundred-mile ride to the fort. 

Hunter, as we rode along, told me his information 
was that the Calif ornians, who were supposed to number 
about five hundred, were encamped in the difficult 
brushy country between the fort and the Rio Grande. 
There they had established themselves in a strong posi- 
tion, and for some time had been busy plundering the 
ranches and small settlements on either side of the 
river with fine impartiality. Having been left un- 



THE MAJOR RECONNOITRES 367 

molested for some time, they probably had grown care- 
less, and kept but an indifferent watch, especially at 
night. His plan then was to push on steadily till within 
a day's march of their position and, having carefully 
reconnoitred it, make a night attack. 

We covered about thirty miles a day and arrived 
quite fresh and fit on the evening of the ninth day at 
our last camping-place, on a clear running creek, about 
twenty-five miles from the enemy's stronghold. It 
was a bright night, and the full moon riding high in 
the cloudless sky made it almost as light as day. Leav- 
ing me in command of the camp as next senior officer 
to himself, Hunter set off with three of his best scouts, 
after a couple of hours' rest, to examine the position. 
If he did not return by noon next day, I was to conclude 
he had been taken or killed, and was to assume the 
command and attack the enemy in the way I thought 
best. 

That night passed slowly enough, at least with me, 
for I had a sort of foreboding that Hunter, who didn't 
know what fear meant, would do something rash and 
get himself into trouble. The morning wore on till 
towards noon, and I was just giving orders for the com- 
mand to fall in to march to Hunter's rescue, feeling sure 
the Calif ornians had got him, when he and his scouts 
came riding down the slope across the creek. He laughed 
long and loudly at my anxiety about him. " Give us 
a drink, my boy, and something to eat, for I'm starving, 
and then I'll tell you all about it." 

The tale was soon told. Following the beaten trail 
past the fort, which seemed deserted and in ruins, he had 
arrived within a quarter of a mile of the Calif ornians' 
camp, about two hours before daybreak, without en- 
countering any pickets. There he left the horses in 
charge of one of the men and, with the other two, crept 
cautiously forward. The moon by this time was falling 
low in the west, but still gave all the light he wanted. 



368 THE CALIFORNIAN RAIDERS 

A plain enough trail led to the foot of a wooded bluff 
on which the camp was placed, and there he nearly- 
blundered on a picket of three men ; but luckily they 
were fast asleep, stretched comfortably on their blankets. 

Passing away to the right, he and his scouts crawled 
through the brush that covered the steep slope, till 
they reached a cleared space, studded thickly with 
tents. Not a soul stirred, and not a guard was to be 
seen. Half a dozen or so horses were picketed near 
the tents. The rest must be under guard somewhere 
else ; but where ? Retreating down the slope as they 
came, they found the far side of the bluff almost pre- 
cipitous, and strewn with loose stones. 

It was too risky to pass these, so they retraced their 
steps and, giving the sleeping picket a wide berth, passed 
round to the left of the position. There, coming to the 
edge of a wide open space, they saw quite a crowd of 
horses picketed under guard, for they could hear the 
men laughing and talking and see some of them, under 
a big live-oak, dealing monte by the light of a flaring 
torch. Having found this side of the bluff, like the 
right, a steep brushy slope, Hunter had seen enough, 
and made the best of his way back to our camp. He 
was in high glee, for now he was sure of success. 

" The trumps are all in our own hands, and the game's 
as good as finished, if only we work it cleverly, and 
some darned blunderer doesn't scare them. Now for 
a good sleep, my boy ; have the command ready to 
march an hour after sundown, and see to all the rifles 
and six-shooters in the meantime." 

By the hour appointed supper was over, the men, all 
eager for the fray, were mounted, and we set off in the 
highest of spirits. I well remember now what a glorious 
night it was, as we rode over the prairie by the light 
of the brilliant moon, with the cool night breeze to fan 
us after the burning heat of the day. But I don't think 
many gave much heed to the beauties of nature, for 



CAREFUL DISPOSITIONS 369 

before us was the prospect of some real fighting under 
a leader we were all glad to follow. 

The plan of attack was thoroughly explained, and 
all the men carefully detailed for the various parts they 
had to play, before we started, so that there should 
be no confusion, so fatal and so difficult to avoid, with 
any troops, in a night attack. The command was to 
halt half a mile from the camp, and all the horses, except 
150, to be left with a reserve of 125 men ; for Hunter, 
daring as he was, was cautious withal, and would avoid 
risks if possible. He himself would lead a hundred 
picked men up the right slope, to surprise the camp, 
whilst 250 dismounted and 100 mounted men were 
to take up position on the left, to intercept the fugitives 
and secure their horses. 

We took our time on the march, jogging along quite 
easily, for we had seven hours to do the distance in 
and prepare for the attack. It was just after three 
o'clock when we reached our halting-place, and the 
moon was all but down. In a very few minutes the 
horses were linked, and the reserve fallen in, under 
command of the second senior captain, with strict orders 
not to move except by order from the Major or myself. 
Even then no word was uttered above a whisper, and 
the boys, excited as they were, were wonderfully quiet 
as yet ; would they keep so till the curtain rang up ? 

The Major and his hundred passed away to the right, 
to avoid the picket, and presently disappeared in the 
darkness and dead silence. Immediately he had done 
so, I led off my 350 to the left, guided by the scouts 
who had been over the ground the night before. We 
marched in column, four abreast to keep touch and 
avoid straggling in the dark. 

Arrived as near the edge of the clearing as we dared 
venture, I gradually formed my party into line as well 
as I could ; the dismounted men on the right, and the 
mounted on the left. Then we waited. Not a sound 

24 



370 THE CALIFORNIA^ RAIDERS 

came from the sleeping camp away on our right ; only 
to our front we could hear the faint stamping of horses' 
feet, perhaps a couple of hundred yards away, and the 
voices of their guards. How slowly the time passed ; 
would Hunter never begin ? 

Now, in the stillness of the night, one of the horses 
in the clearing ahead of us neighed, long and loudly, 
probably because he had winded us, and directly one 
of our own answered him. Some one shouted from 
the guard : " There's a horse loose, whose in thunder 
is it ? " Men came running towards us as we stood in 
silent ranks. If one of my boys fired at them, as they 
well might in their excitement, all our well-laid plans 
were spoiled. 

I dared not move, but held my breath and clenched 
my teeth. What could Hunter be doing all this time ? 
The horse-seekers were pushing through the brush, 
coming straight to us ; in another moment we must be 
discovered. 

No, thank goodness ! our luck still stuck to us ; for 
now, away on the hilltop, I heard a single revolver- 
shot, and following on it instantly, a volley from the 
hundred rifles ; then yells, and screams of terror, and 
desultory firing. For a brief space this went on, and 
then down the brushy slope, on our right front, came 
the Californians, helter-skelter, a mob of fleeing, panic- 
stricken men, whose one thought was to get to their 
horses and escape. 

Meanwhile, the moment I knew Hunter was at work, 
I ordered an advance of the dismounted men at the 
double, directing the horsemen, the moment they were 
clear of the brush, to pass away to the left and get 
round the picketed horses, to prevent a stampede. 
Coming out on the clearing I found, as far as I could see 
in the dim light, an open space between the horses and 
the foot of the slope, which the fugitives must cross. 
Here we halted. 



A VERY SMART LITTLE AFFAIR 371 

As soon as, judging from the sound, they had gathered 
pretty thickly there, I ordered my boys to fire a volley. 
What was the effect it was impossible to see, but the 
cries of terror that resounded from the brush, and from 
the clearing, showed that the double surprise had en- 
tirely routed the enemy, who were scattering in all 
directions. Without waiting to reload, I led the boys 
at the double across the clearing, but only the dead 
and wounded remained ; the rest had, under cover of 
the darkness, disappeared into the brush. 

Now the order to " cease fire " was given, for fear 
we might shoot our own people, and Hunter, leaving a 
detachment to hold the camp, joined us with the rest 
of his men. The surprise was complete, and we con- 
gratulated ourselves and our men on the smart way 
it had been carried out. Of my party not a man had 
been touched, the enemy having been too demoralised, 
when they came into our hands, to fire a single shot. 

Hunter's party had not been so fortunate, for a squad 
of them, leading the charge through the camp, had 
received a hot fire at close range from some of the enemy 
who made a brief stand, and four men were killed and 
ten wounded, four of them very seriously. Of the 
Californians we found in all some thirty-five dead and 
twenty severely wounded, those able to move having got 
away into the brush. When daylight came we rounded 
up the captured horses, and found we had got some 
250. Very few had been taken away by the fugitives ; 
the rest had broken loose, and were lost in the brush. 

A strong scouting party was sent out to follow the 
enemy, but soon returned reporting that they had crossed 
the river into Mexico, whither we did not pursue them. 
There, we heard afterwards, they met with a hot re- 
ception from the ranchers and people of the settlements 
they had plundered with impunity before we broke 
them up, so that many were killed, and the rest scattered 
to the four winds of heaven. 



372 THE CALIFORNIAN RAIDERS 

We feasted royally on the ample provisions left behind 
by the enemy, and then, after a brief rest, having burned 
the tents and what plunder we couldn't carry away, 
set off for Fort Clark, with the wounded borne on im- 
provised litters. We had no surgeon with us nor any 
ambulances, and so were obliged to seek both at the 
post. There we camped for some days, whilst the 
post surgeon attended to the wounded of both sides. 
Four of our own poor fellows died of their wounds, but 
the rest being soon fit to travel, we borrowed four am- 
bulances and brought them back with us to our camp. 

Hunter, having pressing business to attend to, left 
us the day after we reached Fort Clark, and set off with 
a small escort for headquarters, leaving me in command. 
After leaving the fort we kept together for a few days, 
and then the companies dispersed to their respective 
camps under their own commanders. 

The captured horses and other plunder were sent into 
San Antonio, and sold for the benefit of the command 
in general. So ended a successful expedition, well 
organised, and well led by its able commander, to whom 
all the credit of the result was due. 



CHAPTER XIV 

THE JUMPING " BUCKS " 

As soon as we got back from the Fort Lancaster expedition 
in the month of April 1864, the usual exchange of de- 
tachments took place ; those who had been on leave 
returned to duty, and those who had been on service 
went home to attend to their own affairs. I therefore 
took a spell of leave at the ranch, handing over the 
command to the senior Lieutenant, English by name. 
There things I found were not in a very flourishing 
condition. The Indians had swept off several of my 
horses, and many of my cattle had been stolen by so- 
called Government agents, Mexican raiders, and other 
thieves. 

But the worst news I got was the disastrous end of a 
cattle speculation I had gone into with a man named 
Bacon, a cattle-buyer in San Antonio. At that time 
there was hardly any market for beeves in the States, 
whereas in Mexico they fetched a fair price, and in hard 
dollars, not paper-money. Accordingly, I arranged 
with the aforesaid Bacon to take a drove of about four 
hundred cattle across the Rio Grande, of which he was 
to provide one half and I the other. 

Unfortunately, it was just when I was ready to start 
on this trip that I was ordered to join Hunter's ex- 
pedition, and of course I couldn't go. But the cattle 
were already at the ranch and all the arrangements 
were made, so some one must take them. Bacon 
wouldn't go himself — he was a dealer pure and simple, 
not a rancher — but he recommended a half-bred German 

373 



374 THE JUMPING "BUCKS" 

named Blackaller as a trustworthy, competent man 
for the business. So this rascal went off with our cattle, 
whilst I went Californian-hunting to Fort Lancaster. 

Now it seems all went well till the drove was nearing 
Eagle Pass, when Blackaller learned that a stringent 
law had been passed by our Legislature, prohibiting 
the export of cattle, and enacting heavy penalties for 
those even attempting to evade it. At first, so the 
vaqueros reported, he thought of trying to run the 
cattle across lower down the river, but finding that the 
passes were all strongly held by frontier guards, he 
finally drove them on to the prairie between the Carisa 
Creek and the Rio Grande, and there turned them adrift 
to fend for themselves. I need scarcely say the fellow 
never came near me again, which was perhaps as well 
for his health. 

For many months I was too much occupied with 
Indian-hunting and other things to look up these cattle, 
and it was not till the spring of the following year 1865 
that I could find time to recover them. They were all 
properly branded, and I may say that I managed to 
recover the most of them, but in doing so had one of 
the narrowest escapes of losing my scalp that ever befell 
me, which shall be told in its proper place hereafter. 

That spring and summer the Comanches and Lepans 
were more troublesome than ever, and gave us little 
rest or peace. I don't propose to tell of all the hunts 
we had after them, as there was so much sameness in 
them ; but one or two may be worth mentioning as illus- 
trating their methods of fighting. 

Early in the month of May, whilst I was still at the 
ranch, the Comanches came into the country and killed 
and scalped three men, not far from my neighbourhood. 
I sent down to my camp at once for a dozen of my boys, 
and the day after their arrival took a scout round to see 
if we could hit a likely trail to follow. The second day 
we came on one which I guessed was made by about 



A SHARP GALLOP 375 

fifteen or twenty mounted Indians. It was quite fresh 
and easy to follow, and after riding hard on it for a couple 
of hours we came in sight of the scoundrels. There 
were fifteen ponies right enough, but the Indians were 
riding double, so there were thirty of them all told, 
nearly half of them armed with rifles. 

Directly they saw us they formed up in their usual 
V shape, expecting us to charge. But I had no mind 
to do that, for though we probably could have whipped 
them, it would have been with a heavy loss on our side. 
The country was for the most part level and open, but 
broken here and there by hollows. Away to the right, 
about two miles distant, was a low hill with a mott of 
good timber on it, and no covert near it except a few 
scattered live-oaks. Here was the very position for us, 
and without dwelling a moment, for it we rode at a 
gallop. 

The Comanches, who were rather nearer the mott 
than we were, tried all they knew to cut us off ; the 
dismounted men running by the side of the mounted, 
and all yelling like demons. However, we were just 
too quick for them, and got into the mott a hundred 
yards ahead. 

The Comanches then halted, and seemed rather un- 
certain what to be at. Meantime we had dismounted, 
and got our horses behind as good cover as we could. 
I posted my men under cover at the edge of the mott, 
ordering one half to give the Indians a volley when they 
came on, and the other to reserve their fire in case they 
tried to charge home. Presently the Comanches hardened 
their hearts and made a charge, screaming and yelling 
with all their might, and dancing about at such a rate 
that it was uncommonly hard to hit them. We held 
our fire till they were within about sixty yards ; then 
the six rifles spoke, and two of the dancing devils dropped. 
The rest fell back into a hollow, and for some minutes 
were quite quiet ; then out they charged again, only 



376 THE JUMPING "BUCKS" 

to retire as before, but this time they carried away three 
wounded with them. 

This performance, varied by occasional potting at us, 
from behind the live-oaks, went on for more than an 
hour, without doing us any damage except slightly 
wounding a horse. Some of them had white men's 
scalps in their hands, and these they flourished about, 
taunting us with being afraid to come out and get them. 

The chief, a big buck Indian, as naked as the day he 
was born (as indeed they all were, save for their buck- 
skin leggings and a plentiful daubing of paint), tried his 
hardest to make his followers charge the mott. After 
a long harangue, he suddenly made a rush for a live- 
oak about fifty yards from the mott, and planted 
his lance in the ground by the side of it. Some half- 
dozen of his men followed him ; the rest hung back, 
despite his vehement exhortations. 

The old fellow was plucky enough, for though we made 
it pretty hot for him, he held his ground, and annoyed 
us greatly by jumping out every now and then and taking 
a snapshot at any one unwary enough to show even the 
tip of his nose. 

The thing got to be a nuisance and had to be put a stop 
to, for quick as he was in his movements, just flashing 
out from his tree and back again like lightning, he 
was making very good shooting. I therefore called up 
Jake Hillson, a splendid rifle-shot, and told him to wipe 
out that buck for me. " I've had half a dozen pulls 
at the crittur already," he said, " but he's so tarnation 
smart in his jump, I can't git him nohow." 

" Lay your rifle on the spot he jumps to, and when 
he comes into your sight, pull, and it's odds on your 
nailing him." 

Once more our friend jumped out and back, untouched ; 
but the next jump was his last, for Hillson's rifle rang out, 
and the Indian sprang into the air and fell dead in his 
tracks, shot through the heart. The fall of their chief 



A CHIP OF THE OLD BLOCK 377 

dashed the courage of the rest, and they retreated into 
the hollow, taking the body with them ; but not before 
one of the boys knocked over another, who had turned 
round to flourish the scalp he carried at us. After wait- 
ing half an hour, and finding they didn't renew the 
attack, we sallied forth to find the Indians had gone, 
riding off double again as hard as they could go. We 
found the bodies of the chief, and two other Indians, 
thrown into a water-hole in the hollow, but the wounded 
they carried off with them. 

We had given these gentry a pretty good lesson, at 
slight cost to ourselves ; for all our casualties were the 
wounded horse, and one of the boys slightly hit by one 
of the shots of the vanishing chief just before Hillson 
bowled him over. I did not feel inclined to follow them 
any farther, for it was risky work to tackle them in the 
open, well-armed as they were, with so small a party, 
and so returned to camp next day. 

At the end of May 1864 an organised band of renegades 
from Texas collected in Mexico, hoisted the Union flag, 
crossed the Rio Grande, and took the small town of 
Eagle Pass, where they looted the cotton stored for 
export to Mexico. Expresses were sent out at once to 
summon all the frontier regiments within reach, to 
turn these rascals out. It was boot and saddle all up 
and down the district, and in double quick time my 
command was en route for the Rio Grande. We were, 
however, turned back after a few days' march, as our 
services were not required, the renegades having 
dispersed at the first alarm of the approach of reliefs. 

A garrison of two companies of Rangers was left in 
the town, who drove off and killed a good many of the 
ruffians when they returned a second time. Some of 
them retired to Mexico, but a strong band moved up the 
river to the San Felipe Springs, plundering as they went. 
There they were encountered by a frontier force under 
a Captain Minshul, son of old Asa, of Vigilance Committee 



378 THE JUMPING "BUCKS" 

fame, who surprised and captured a number of them. 
These, to the number of about thirty, he promptly hanged, 
thereby proving himself a true chip of the old block. 

The next bout with Indians I may mention was late 
that same summer ; and curiously enough there was 
then a repetition of much the same jumping perform- 
ance as in the previous one, only this time we had the 
Redskins penned in a mott instead of being penned 
ourselves. 

I was in camp with the command on the Leona, when 
a runner came galloping in with a most urgent message 
from the brothers Rheeders, begging me to come to their 
help against the Comanches, who in some force were 
raiding the country, and sweeping it of horses. They 
had already killed and mutilated the men, women and 
children on two ranches, and there was no time to be 
lost if the other settlements were to be saved. The 
brothers, of whom there were two, were holding their 
ranch, with eight more good men, and thought they 
could keep the Indians off till we arrived. 

I got that message an hour before daybreak, the 
runner having ridden all night without drawing rein. 
He was well mounted, and made a dash from the 
ranch, with the Indians at his tail for some miles ; but 
his horse was too good for them, and he shook them 
off, carrying with him, however, one of their arrows, 
stuck fast in the cantle of his saddle. Within an hour 
I was on the road to the Hondo, with twenty-five of 
my best-mounted men, and with sixty good miles to ride 
before nightfall. Steadily we pushed along, and just 
at dusk made the ranch, where you may guess my friends 
the Rheeders were right glad to see us. 

The Comanches had cleared out at our approach, 
so there was nothing to be done that night but to rest 
in preparation for the next day's work. The folks at 
the ranch saw to our horses and got us|a good supper ; 
then, whilst they mounted guard against a surprise, 



THE COMANCHES' STRONG POSITION 379 

we of the command stretched ourselves on our blankets, 
where best we could, and soon slept the sleep of the 
weary. 

The first streak of daylight next morning saw us all on 
the trail, which was easy enough to follow, for the Indians 
were driving a big bunch of horses they had stolen, 
and we knew they would make a fight of it rather than 
allow them to be recaptured. Our horses were fresh 
as paint again after their rest and feed, and we pushed 
on at a sharp lope, confident we should overtake the 
thieving villains and whip them ; which we did, for we 
were thirty-five in number, all well armed, and used 
to the game. The brothers reckoned that the Indian 
band was at least sixty strong, but only a few of them 
appeared to have rifles ; I think their estimate was 
near the mark. 

In about two hours we found the Comanches in a thick 
mott crowning a low hill near the Hondo, with a 
brushy ridge running back from it to the dense chaparral 
that lined the banks of the creek ; an awkward position 
to attack, and one from which the Indians could easily 
retire, if they found it untenable. I saw at once we 
couldn't hope to get many of them ; but could we recover 
the stolen horses ? They had got a bunch of about 
a hundred securely hidden in the mott, and they had 
to be captured somehow or other. 

I halted my little party about three hundred yards 
from the Indian camp, in a hollow, and then crept for- 
ward to reconnoitre the position. From the top of the 
low ridge on which I lay, I could see that between 
me and the mott there were some scattered live-oaks, 
and here and there some brushy cover, through which 
the boys could creep pretty close to the base of the 
hill. Behind me the hollow trended round, till it ran 
up to the wooded ridge at the back of the mott. I 
rejoined my boys in a few minutes, dismounted them, 
and left the linked horses in charge of two men. 



380 THE JUMPING "BUCKS" 

I had no doubt that the Indians thought we were a 
much stronger party than we were, else they would 
have fought us in the open, as is their usual custom. 
To keep up the delusion, and effect a surprise, which 
scares Indians badly, as indeed it does most people, I sent 
my senior Lieutenant, Dan Williams, with eight picked 
men to creep round by the hollow and get unobserved 
on to the ridge in the rear of the mott. There he was 
to lie quiet till I gave the signal for my boys to charge, 
which would be one shrill blast on my whistle. Hearing 
that, he was to fire a volley into the Indians, and kick 
up all the row the boys could raise. Away he went 
with his little party, and I moved my men up to the 
edge of the ridge and ordered them to lie down with 
intervals between them of about ten yards. 

Very few of the Comanches could be seen, for most 
of them were hidden behind the trees, and didn't show ; 
but one big buck, whom I judged to be the chief, from 
the bunch of eagle feathers in his hair, stood out watch- 
ing our movements, having no doubt caught a glimpse 
of us as we topped the ridge. To attract their atten- 
tion, and let Dan get round unseen, I now ordered the 
boys to commence individual firing as fast as they 
could, but before they did so I took a pot-shot myself 
at the gentleman in feathers, but missed him, which was 
a bad mull, for he wasn't more than a hundred and fifty 
yards off. The bullet must have whizzed pretty close 
to him, for he gave such a jump I thought he was hit ; 
but he was only scared. 

The enemy promptly replied with a volley of arrows, 
all of which fell short, and a few rifle shots, which did 
no damage. 

We kept this up till such time as I thought Dan and 
his men had reached their position ; then I ordered 
an advance to the foot of the slope, all of us creeping 
and crawling through the long grass and brush, which 
fairly hid us. This brought us within about eighty 



HE JUMPS NO MORE 381 

to a hundred yards of the mott, at which range 
Indians are more deadly with their bows and arrows 
than they are, as a rule, with rifles. 

The buck with the feathers was an extra good shot 
with his bow, and one could see him peering round the 
tree for a chance at any one who showed himself. The 
grass in which we lay was so long that to get a shot 
it was necessary at least to show one's head above it. 
The moment one of the boys did this, out popped my 
friend, and let drive an arrow, generally unpleasantly 
near his mark. Once he hit it, for as one of the boys 
next to me raised his head and shoulders to take a 
snap at another Indian, the chief, quick as lightning, 
sent an arrow through the fleshy part of his left arm, 
and then began to whoop and dance in triumph. 

The time to charge had nearly come, for I felt sure 
that Dan must already be at his post ; and I had too 
many wounded, and couldn't afford to lose any more. 
But if I could polish off that chief before I gave the 
order, it would have a demoralising effect upon the 
enemy, and perhaps save some lives. Hillson, my 
prize shot, wasn't with the party, so I must even try 
what I could do myself. 

By this time the big Indian, having been missed 
several times, had grown careless and over-confident, 
and, instead of popping back the moment he had shot, 
paused an instant to see the result. I had carefully 
marked where he jumped to ; and now I knelt up to 
tempt him out, and laid my Sharp's rifle on the spot. 
I hadn't more than a few seconds to wait, finger on 
trigger and eye on sight ; but whilst I did so a couple 
of arrows came hurtling past me, unpleasantly near. 
Out came the chief, to see if he couldn't do better than 
his men, and the instant he came into my sight, I squeezed 
the trigger. I had got him sure enough this time, for, 
to my great relief, he fell forward on his face, and lay 
like a log. 



382 THE JUMPING "BUCKS" 

Seeing this, I blew my whistle long and loudly, then 
gave the order to charge, and away we went at the 
double. Hardly were the words out of my mouth 
when, from the ambuscade, rang out Dan Williams' 
volley. 

The Indians in the mott, who till then showed a 
bold enough front, and evidently meant fighting, were 
now cowed and terrified by this sudden attack on their 
rear, and ran for their lives ; so that when we reached 
their camp none but the dead and wounded were to 
be seen. Through the brush they went, as only them- 
selves, or scared peccary, with hounds at their heels, 
could go, and it was quite useless to follow them. The 
ruse had succeeded perfectly and Dan had managed 
his surprise so cleverly, and got so close to the camp, 
that when he opened fire he bowled over seven of the 
unsuspecting enemy. 

Poor Dan ! he was a right good fellow, and a first- 
class Indian fighter. If he had any fault it was that he 
was too plucky, and held Indians too cheaply. Unfortu- 
nately this cost him his life not long after this, as I 
shall have to tell in its proper place. 

Our victory had been cheaply won, for our casualties 
were only three men wounded by arrows, only one of 
whom was dangerously hurt. On the other hand we 
had killed ten Indians, recovered all the stolen horses, 
eighty-seven in number, and captured many of their 
ponies, as well as much spoil in the shape of spears, 
bows and arrows, blankets, etc. 

It was not advisable to linger in the mott, lest the 
Comanches should rally and attempt to retake the 
horses ; so as soon as we had collected all the animals, 
and packed the spoil, we set off on our return to the 
Hondo, well pleased with our morning's work. 



CHAPTER XV 

FRENCH OF THE LEONA 

Whilst we were away on the Indian hunt last described, 
two inoffensive Mexicans were basely murdered on 
the Leona Creek, not far from the headquarters of my 
command. A man named French, a well-to-do cattle- 
rancher, was the perpetrator of the deed, which would 
hardly be worth mentioning — murders were such common 
occurrences in those days — if it were not for the signal 
vengeance his two sons wreaked upon all those concerned 
in the punishment inflicted on their father. These 
young fellows, Jim and Dick French, were both in 
my company ; plucky, dare-devil boys, and first-rate 
frontiersmen, though the eldest was only twenty-one, 
and the youngest twenty. 

The whole story, including the lynching of the murderer, 
is so characteristic of the Texas of those days that perhaps 
it is worth telling. 

According to the evidence of his own vaqueros, two 
Mexicans came from across the Rio Grande to buy beeves 
from French, and brought with them solid silver dollars 
to pay for them ; scarce commodities in Texas in those 
days, when all the money we ever saw was Confederate 
paper. It was these same dollars that cost the poor 
fellows their lives. After the usual bargaining and hag- 
gling, the price of the beeves was agreed, and French set 
out with the two unsuspecting Mexicans to hunt them up. 

The dollars being too heavy to carry cattle-hunting, 
were left behind at the ranch. When the devil put it 
into French's head that he might have the dollars, and 



384 French of the leona 

keep the cattle too, I know not ; but it got there pretty 
early in the expedition, for the murders were committed 
on the morning of the second day out. The little party 
were camped on the edge of the dense chaparral that 
lines the sides of the creek, and, after the customary cup 
of coffee, one of the Mexicans went out to hunt up the 
horses for the day's work, and with him went the only 
vaquero French had brought with him. It doesn't 
appear whether this latter had any suspicion of foul play, 
but at any rate, instead of hunting up the horses he hid 
himself in the brush hard by, and saw all that happened. 

No sooner had Mexican No. 1 got out of earshot, than 
French suddenly clapped his six-shooter to the head of 
No. 2, who fell without a groan. The body was dragged 
into the chaparral, and the murderer returned to wait 
for the other victim. Presently he came back with the 
horses, and he too was shot from behind. The body 
having been disposed of as before, French sat down and 
had his breakfast as though nothing had happened. 

The trembling witness, lying hid in the brush, was 
afraid to come out, lest he too should be shot ; so after 
waiting for him some time, his master set out for the 
ranch, driving with him the cattle they had collected. 
But before doing so he took the saddles, bridles, and 
blankets of the Mexicans, and hid them too in the cha- 
parral, turning their horses loose to find their way home. 

When he got back he told his people that the Mexicans 
and he had quarrelled about the quality of the cattle, and 
they had gone off to buy beeves elsewhere, and would 
come for their money when they had got what they wanted. 

He no doubt thought he had managed the business very 
cleverly, and had no fear that his crimes would ever 
be brought home to him. The non-appearance of the 
vaquero was puzzling, but, when he didn't return after 
the lapse of two or three days, he imagined he had run 
off to Mexico with his horse, as those gentry occasionally 
did. As a matter of fact the man was too scared at what 



THE VIGILANCE COMMITTEE AGAIN 385 

he had witnessed to return to the ranch, and went off at 
once to French's nextdoor neighbour, a man named Simons, 
who owned a ranch some fifteen miles down the creek. 

Now this man was not on friendly terms with French, 
and directly he heard the vaquero's story concluded that, 
if it were true, his enemy deserved hanging. Simons 
repeated what he had heard to some five others of the 
neighbours, and they, partly because French was unpopu- 
lar, and partly because murdering Mexican cattle-buyers 
savoured of killing the geese that laid the silver eggs, 
agreed that he ought to be hanged. 

The vaquero took the whole party over to the cha- 
parral and showed them the remains of the Mexicans, and 
where their saddlery was hidden. Then, knowing his 
two boys were away with me, they went straight off to 
French's ranch, found the murdered Mexicans' dollars 
in his possession, and arrested him. 

Simons was for hanging him then and there, but the 
rest overruled this, and took him into San Antonio with 
the intention of handing him over to the authorities. 
But before they could do this, the news of the capture 
reached the ears of Hiram Minshul, old Asa's son, and 
Sol Chiff, the Vice-President of the Vigilance Committee, 
who, with some of their friends, seized the prisoner 
and forthwith hanged him on a china-tree on the plaza 
in front of the house of Padre Sanchez, the highly respected 
Catholic priest of the town. The Padre, a very decent 
old fellow, was highly indignant at this outrage, and had 
the tree promptly cut down. There, for the moment, 
the matter ended, for of course none of the Vigilance 
Committee people were punished. 

The sons returned home three days after their father 
had been carried off, and followed hard after him to San 
Antonio, where they arrived the day after he had been 
hanged. Their first impulse, as they told me afterwards, 
was to shoot down Hiram Minshul and as many of the 
gang as they could ; but these folks were on the alert, 

25 



386 FRENCH OF THE LEONA 

and the boys recognised that, if they tried that on, they 
would probably be hanged themselves before they could 
exact one half of the vengeance that would satisfy their 
wrath. So they promptly cleared out of the town, deter- 
mined to bide their time, let the matter blow over, and, 
when it was forgotten, as it would soon be, take their 
enemies unawares and kill every one who was connected 
with their father's death. 

French was hanged in the early days of November, and, 
to the great surprise of all who knew them, the two boys 
took no steps to avenge his death for nearly six months. 
By that time so common an occurrence as the lynching 
of a man was forgotten, or, if it was ever talked of, it was 
only because the sons had taken it so quietly, and shown 
so little " grit." Simons and the rest, who for some time 
walked warily, and kept a sharp look-out for Jim and 
Dick French, were now quite at their ease, for the boys 
appeared to be as friendly with them as ever. They were, 
however, destined to have a rude awakening. 

By the end of May 1865, Lee's surrender was known 
in Texas ; the " break-up " of the Confederacy had come, 
and my frontier company was of course disbanded. A 
kind of interregnum followed, for though San Antonio 
and the other chief towns were held by Federal troops, 
who promptly established the regime of law and order, 
the outlying districts were left to themselves for some 
time, and of course every man was a law unto himself 
for the time being. This was the opportunity the two 
young fellows had waited for so patiently. Their enemies 
were lulled into false security, there were no frontier troops 
to interfere with them, and they would wipe out every 
man however remotely concerned in their father's death ! 

Hiram Minshul, Asa his father, Sol Chiff, and the 
rest of the leaders of the Vigilance Committee, with " an 
intelligent anticipation of events to come," had cleared 
out before the " break-up " was actually known, and had 
gone no one knew whither, probably into Mexico ; but 



JIM AND DICK BEGIN 387 

there were plenty left to satisfy their craving for ven- 
geance, and every one of them they would shoot like dogs. 

Directly then the company had been disbanded, Jim 
and Dick came down to the Leona, well mounted, and 
armed with a couple of six-shooters and a repeating rifle 
apiece. When they arrived, Simons was out cow-hunting 
with a friend of his named Bishop, and their camp was 
a few miles down the creek, not very far from the spot 
where French had murdered the Mexicans. 

The boys followed them at once, stole into their camp 
just before daybreak, roused them from their sleep, and 
shot them down before their eyes were well open. The 
three Mexican vaqueros with Simons promptly bolted, 
and the two Frenches, leaving the bodies where they fell, 
set off at once for the ranch of a man named McConnel, 
some miles higher up the Leona than Simons' place. 
The vaqueros, they knew, would soon spread the news of 
the deed they had done, so they pushed on all that day 
and best part of the next night, reaching McConnel's 
ranch, well ahead of the news, whilst it was yet dark. 

Now McConnel had two sons, handy men with their 
six-shooters, as was well known to the French boys, for 
they had served with them on the frontier. Having 
then, as they thought, to deal with three well-armed 
fighting men, they determined to run no risks, but to lie 
by close to the door of the ranch, shoot the first man 
that came out, and then rush the house for the others. It 
is true that the McConnel boys had had no hand in old 
French's death, but their father had, and they must pay 
the penalty too. 

The watch was not a long one, for just after sun-up 
McConnel senior, newly awakened from sleep, came to 
his door, and fell across his threshold, shot through the 
head. Into the house dashed the murderers, only to find 
it empty, for the sons, as it happened, were away cow- 
hunting, and so escaped their father's fate. The young 
ruffians dragged the body into an outhouse close by, and 



388 FRENCH OF THE LEONA 

then sat down coolly to breakfast in their victim's house ; 
then, their thirst for vengeance as keen as ever, set off 
for Hay's ranch, nearly a day's ride across the prairie. 
After a brief halt at midday to rest their horses, they 
had arrived, as the afternoon was waning, within about 
five miles of Hay's place when, as they topped a ridge, 
they saw the man they sought riding towards them. He 
saw them at the same moment, instantly turned his horse's 
head, and galloped homewards for dear life. The news 
that the French boys were " on the shoot " had reached 
him, and he was making his way to the settlements to 
escape them. 

The pursuers and pursued were separated by about 
three hundred yards, and for a time the latter held his 
own. For a couple of miles or so the grim race lasted, 
without change of position ; the hunted man rode for his 
life, and the hunters followed after, thirsting for his blood. 
Now the better condition and quality of the latter's 
horses began to tell, and, yard by yard, they began to 
overhaul their quarry. Now he was only a hundred yards 
ahead ; now only fifty, and he drew his six-shooter to 
make a fight for his life. Turning in his saddle, without 
pulling rein, he let drive and missed ; fired a second and 
third time, with the same result. Then, in desperation, 
he pulled his horse sharp round to get a fair aim ; but the 
poor animal was done, and he and his rider came heavily 
to the ground. Now his enemies were upon him, and, 
before he could rise, put two bullets into him where he 
lay, and so slew their fourth victim. 

Then they caught and unsaddled his horse and turned 
it loose, camping on the creek hard by for the night. 

One wonders how they slept ; but probably they were 
not troubled by dreams of what they had done. 

The next man they had marked down for vengeance 
was one named Stokes, who lived near Atacosa Court I 
House, and thither then they wended their way ; but! 
whilst they were still some miles distant, they learned 



THE "NOONING" PLACE 389 

from some vaqueros that Stokes and his son had started 
three weeks before with a bunch of cattle for Eagle Pass, 
on the Rio Grande. So they turned back at once, and 
struck for the well-beaten trail that led there, confident 
that they would encounter those they sought on their 
homeward journey. 

The way was long, but they kept steadily on by easy 
stages, knowing they must meet their men sooner or 
later ; nor, as far as I gathered from the story they told 
me, did any thought of relenting enter their souls through 
all the long ride. Indeed their one thought was to 
avenge their father's death, for which the blood they had 
already shed was quite inadequate, so long as any one 
concerned in it was still alive. 

They followed the road for about a fortnight, when one 
midday they came on Stokes and his son " nooning " it 
under the shade of some live-oaks, hard by a water-hole. 
No news of the Frenches' vendetta had reached these men, 
and they had no suspicion of their impending fate. They 
greeted the newcomers, and these dismounted, apparently 
to join them in their midday rest. News was asked for 
on either side, and the father and son were much interested 
to hear of the Federals' doings in San Antonio. 

Soon it was time to saddle up and part, each on their 
own road. The Stoke ses were busy with their horses ; 
the last business that would ever occupy them in this 
world. For now the prearranged signal was given, and 
Jim French, whilst he gave it, whipped out his pistol and 
shot the younger Stokes dead. Dick French fumbled 
with his six-shooter, and the elder Stokes ran for his life, 
though he had no chance, for his arms were on his saddle. 
Both the brothers fired after him, and a bullet through 
his leg brought him to the ground. Now they bound 
him hand and foot, carried him back to where they had 
lately sat talking and laughing together, and hanged him 
on the live-oak beneath which lay the dead body of his 
son. Then they unsaddled the dead men's horses, turned 



390 FRENCH OF THE LEONA 

them loose as before, and departed, leaving the dollars of 
their victims for the first chance thief who might come 
along, and their corpses for the buzzards and coyotes. 

This is a tale of cold-blooded, ruthless murder, it will 
be said, not fit to be told to decent law-abiding people ; 
besides, it is incredible that two young fellows, such as 
here described, could be so bloodthirsty and remorseless 
in their vengeance. But it is true nevertheless, though 
not quite complete yet ; for yet another death penalty 
had to be paid before they were satisfied, or partly so. 

What these boys did was the outcome of the lawless 
state of society in which they lived, where only private 
vengeance could requite private, or as a matter of fact, 
public wrongs, and where human life was held as cheap 
as that of the " beasts that perish." Moreover, as is always 
the case, at least in my experience in the West and South, 
when men start shooting like this, the appetite grows by 
what it feeds on, till blood- shedding seems to become a 
real pleasure. I think these young fellows had reached this 
stage, for now they grew quite reckless, and were a mind 
to run "amok," not only against their father's enemies, but 
against any one who had held office in the State service. 

In this frame of mind they rode into Atacosa Court 
House, a one-horse little place, though the capital of 
the county of the same name. Their errand there was 
to seek Jake Peat who, next to Simons, had been most 
prominent in their father's arrest, and who they heard 
was in the place. Jake knew well enough they would be 
after him at any moment, and therefore went fully armed 
and prepared for the meeting. He was a fighting man, 
and loudly declared he wasn't afraid of the French boys, 
but would shoot them on sight, if they ever came near him. 

The town boasted one drinking and gambling saloon, 
and the boys, inquiring for Peat, were told he was there 
with several of his friends. They hitched their horses 
hard by, and, six-shooters in hand, rushed in, shouting 
" hands up ! " as they did so. 



IN THE ATACOSA SALOON 391 

Standing at the bar, or seated at the tables, there were 
about a dozen men in the place, and all promptly obeyed 
the order, except Jake and a friend, who were standing 
together talking. They whipped out their six-shooters, 
but before they could fire the boys pulled on them, and 
both fell — Peat shot through the chest, and the other man 
through the left shoulder. Peat was mortally wounded, 
and never spoke again ; but his friend, who still held his 
pistol, sat up, and let drive at Jim French, sending a 
bullet through the fleshy part of his left arm. Before 
he could fire again, Dick French shot him through the 
head. Then, as coolly as though nothing had happened, 
they both walked out of the saloon, six-shooters in hand, 
no one daring to hinder them. 

As it happened, business took me to the Court House 
that very afternoon, and as I was riding into the place, I 
met an acquaintance who told me what had been done. 
He was a good bit flurried, and said he was going to get 
out of the town, which didn't seem a very healthy place 
just then, for the French boys were on the shoot, and 
vowing they would kill every one who had anything to 
do with the defunct Vigilance Committee or the State 
service, adding, " If I were you, I should go too, for 
those boys will shoot you else to a certainty ; they're real 
mad, I tell you." " Nonsense," I answered, " the French 
boys shoot me ! Why, they served under me for months 
on the frontier, and we were the best of friends." 

So I rode on into the town, which seemed strangely 
quiet and deserted, and my friend continued his journey. 
I can't say I felt quite easy in my mind all the same, for, 
as I have said, when men go "on the shoot," they are 
not always so particular as they ought to be as to whom 
they practise on. I certainly looked to my six-shooters, 
and put them handy for use in case of accidents, and then 
went on to hunt up my young friends. 

As I passed the Court House, I saw them riding some 
hundred yards or so ahead of me, and, putting a bold 



392 FRENCH OF THE LEONA 

front on my uneasiness, called after them by name. At 
once they swung their horses round, and came to meet 
me with their six-shooters at the ready. It was rather a 
nervous moment, but directly they made sure who it was, 
they put them up and greeted me in the most friendly 
way. " Why, boss," said Jim, who carried his left arm 
in a sling, " what brings yew here ? Anyway, I'm real glad 
to see yew again." " And so am I," said Dick. 

I told them I had happened to come into the town on 
business, and had just heard of their doings. " And now, 
boys," I said, " I think you've done enough of this shoot- 
ing business, and perhaps a little too much, if you ask 
me. Besides, if you don't clear out, you'll have the 
whole country raised on you directly. I should advise 
you to get across into Mexico as soon as you can." 

" Jist what we was figuring to do, boss," said Dick ; 
" your head's level, sure enough. We reckon we've about 
wiped out all them as we wanted to this side the Rio 
Grande, and over there we're goin' to hunt round a bit 
for Asa and Hiram Minshul, Sol Chiff, and any of the 
dog-gorned gang we can find." " We reckon to work 
down as far as Mat amor as," chimed in Jim, " for we heard 
say as some on 'em had skedaddled there. If we do happen 
on 'em, yew bet your bottom dollar, Cap., we'll hang old 
Asa with his own rope, and I'll count that the best day's 
work that ever I done." 

" Well, boys," I said, " I wish you luck in that, any 
way. Now good-bye, for you'd best be gone." So we 
shook hands and parted, and I never heard any more of 
them. 

As to their quest for Asa Minshul, it was most improb- 
able they would succeed in it, for the old villain was far 
too cute to stay in Matamoras, even if he had gone there ; 
it was too near the frontier of Texas to be healthy. Most 
likely he had gone up North straight away, and was by 
that time a shining light in some Methodist church in 
Boston, or elsewhere. 



BOOK V 
THE BREAK-UP, AND AFTER 



CHAPTER I 

MY COMPANY'S LAST INDIAN FIGHT 

In this autumn of 1864 the last scenes in the awful drama 
of Civil War were being enacted far away from us in Texas. 
But though news filtered slowly down to us in our remote 
corner of the Confederacy, it was uniformly bad, and 
told of defeat and disaster without a gleam of success to 
lighten the despondency that reigned throughout the 
South. None but those who actually lived in the South 
during that wartime, and were regarded as true 
Southerners by the people, can realise what the victory 
of the North meant to that proud race. 

The great struggle was begun by most Southerners 
with a light heart, and an absolute assurance of success. 
The Yankees wouldn't fight ; but if they were rash enough 
to do so, we could whip them easily. Now, after three 
years and a half of desperate fighting, General Lee, and 
the remnant of his gallant army that survived the dreadful 
slaughter of the battles of the Wilderness, were shut up 
in the lines of Petersburg. The South was exhausted 
and drained of men, money, and munitions. No more 
armies could be raised to help our leader, and to all men's 
minds the end we dreaded seemed very near. 

All the world knows now that it was only his indomit- 
able soul and resourceful war-genius that staved it off 
for a few brief months. He and his shoeless, ragged, 
starving army covered themselves with glory, but the 
cause for which they had fought so gallantly was lost 
already. 

In the towns and settlements a kind of hushed expect- 



396 MY COMPANY'S LAST INDIAN FIGHT 

ancy prevailed ; business and pleasure alike seemed at a 
standstill, and men waited and watched as before the 
coming of some great storm or catastrophe of nature. 
But on the frontier it was different, for our untiring 
enemies the Indians kept us always on the alert, and it 
was only by constant vigilance that we could keep them 
in check at all. It was as though they knew that the time 
of comparative freedom from restraint they had enjoyed 
for more than three years was drawing to an end, and 
that they must make the most of what remained. 

All that autumn and winter not only we, but all the 
other frontier Rangers, almost lived in the saddle, and 
still could not efficiently protect the lives of the ranchers 
and their property from the ubiquitous Indians. Their 
ravages extended up the frontier from the lower Nueces 
and Frio Rivers, along the line of the Rio Grande del 
Norte, and almost across to the Brazos River on the east, 
a country nearly 700 miles in length by 500 in breadth. 
All therefore that the few companies of Rangers could do 
was to establish their camps where best they could protect 
the widely scattered ranches, and follow up the raiding 
bands as soon as news reached them that they were in 
their neighbourhood. Of course many of the marauders 
got clear away with their plunder and the scalps of their 
unfortunate victims, surprised in some lonely ranch ; 
for they spared neither men, women, nor children if they 
could murder them without too much risk to themselves. 

Their main object in all their raids, however, was horse- 
stealing ; the killing of cattle and the murder of defence- 
less human beings were only pleasant interludes to their 
chief business. Many and many a weary and fruitless ride 
we had that season over the endless prairies and through 
the difficult mountain region between the Pecos and 
the Rio Grande ; but sometimes we were lucky enough to 
come up with the crafty thieves, and then we neither 
gave, nor expected, quarter. After the two Indian fights 
described in the last chapter but one, it may perhaps 



DAN'S COUSIN KILLED 397 

be wearisome to tell of another ; but it was the last one 
in which I ever took part, and in some respects the most 
disastrous, so maybe the story is worth giving. 

It was in April 1865, and my company was still in camp 
on the Leona, under command of my senior Lieutenant, 
Fred English, for I was away at the ranch for a spell of 
leave, to look after my own business, when news was 
brought there that a strong band of about eighty Co- 
manches was slaying, burning, and raiding on the middle 
Nueces. They had met with a hot reception at the first 
ranch they raided, for the two brothers who owned it, 
Scotsmen of the name of Cockburn, had fought desperately 
for their lives and property, and killed three of the 
marauding demons before they were overpowered and 
scalped. With them died the wife and three children 
of one of the brothers — how, it is best perhaps not to 
know ; the other brother fortunately had no family. 

The sight of white men's blood had inflamed the 
Comanches' thirst for more, and the next ranch they came 
to they fiercely attacked, and promptly captured. Not a 
very great exploit for eighty savages to accomplish, for it 
was only held by one white man and three of his vaqueros, 
who usually are not much good in a fight. However, 
they managed to kill a couple of the Indians before they 
were killed, scalped, and mutilated in the nameless 
fashion of these savages. 

The unfortunate owner of this place was well known to 
me, poor fellow, for he was a cousin of my junior Lieuten- 
ant Dan Williams, and no doubt it was that fact that led 
Dan and English to throw away their lives in their rash 
thirst for vengeance, as will be seen. By this time the 
alarm had been given all along the river, and the ranchers, 
not strong enough to hold their own, had taken refuge 
elsewhere ; but the Indians, if they couldn't get them, 
had got pretty well all their horses, and were driving off 
a very big bunch, probably nearly two hundred in num- 
ber. The moment English heard the tidings he mustered 



398 MY COMPANY'S LAST INDIAN FIGHT 

all hands in camp, twenty-five all told, and with Dan 
Williams, his junior, set off in pursuit. At the same time 
he sent an express to a detachment of ten of the boys 
a few miles higher up the creek, with orders to join me 
at my ranch, and, if I were not there, to come on after 
him, without waiting for me. 

Luckily I was at home, and, having a fresh horse just 
caught, we were speedily riding over the prairie to join 
the rest. I was anxious for my friends English and 
Dan Williams, especially when I heard the fate of the 
latter's cousin, and for my brave boys too. The odds 
were terribly against them, and I had reason to fear 
they might do something rash, for both were brave to 
a fault, and were apt to hold Indians and their fighting 
powers too cheaply. It is always foolish to do that, 
especially when your enemy is cornered, and must fight 
or die ; even a rat, when he can't bolt, will fight to the 
death. 

Dan Williams was a great friend of mine, and we had 
been in many a tough Indian scrimmage together, and, 
so far, had always come out on top. It was he who led 
the attack on the rear of the Indians' position so cleverly 
in the Hondo fight, when we whipped them so badly 
and got their horses, mainly through the way he carried 
out his orders. And now he was going to fight his last 
fight against any foe ! 

The two Lieutenants and their party had about eight 
hours' start of me, but their trail, and that of the Indians, 
was a very plain one, leading as it did over the grassy 
prairie, and I rode on it as fast as I dared press the horses, 
When night fell I was sure from the sign that they were 
not far ahead of us ; and it was easy to see that they, 
and we, were catching up with the Comanches. 

Unfortunately it was a dark, moonless night, and I 
had perforce to wait for daylight, for fear of missing the 
trail, anxious as I was to push on and be in time for the 
fight. A foreboding of ill weighed on me, and, tired out 



A RASH ACTION 399 

as I was, I hardly closed my eyes all that weary night. 
An hour before daybreak I roused the boys out of their 
heavy sleep, and with the first streak of dawn we were 
on the trail again. I found afterwards that our party 
had camped only five or six miles ahead of us ; if we had 
had but half an hour's more daylight we should have 
caught them in time ! But it wasn't to be. Plainer and 
plainer grew the wide trail, and we rode on it at a fast 
lope. 

The bright, fresh morning, and the certainty that we 
were now close at the heels of our friends, had dispelled 
my fears, and I had every hope of catching them in time. 
But that half hour of daylight, that had failed us over- 
night, still held us in its toils, and by that much we missed 
our opportunity. 

We had ridden perhaps ten miles, and, as we topped 
a rise on the prairie, saw a sight that made my blood 
curdle. A mile or so away on the level plain, without 
a tree on it to hide the view, was the band of Indians, 
dismounted, and drawn up in their favourite " V " 
formation to receive the boys' attack. The latter were 
charging right at this, and were then, as I judged, within 
a few hundred yards from it. In the clear, dry air of 
the plains the whole scene was as clearly visible as though 
it was close at hand. 

In frantic excitement, and forgetful of the distance 
that separated us, I yelled to them to halt, and then fired 
my rifle as we galloped on, hoping they might hear that 
and wait for our coming. But they heard nothing, and 
saw nothing but the band of murdering villains in front 
of them, against whom they dashed at a full gallop. The 
" V " closed in on the little troop of boys who were so 
recklessly throwing away their lives, and in a moment 
friend and foe were mixed in extricable confusion. On 
we rode to the help of our hard-pressed friends, and as 
we neared them the tangle unravelled itself gradually, 
and those of the boys who still kept their saddles came 



400 MY COMPANY'S LAST INDIAN FIGHT 

clear out of the mass of yelling Indians. But five horses 
galloped riderless over the plain, and one of them was 
Dan Williams'. Six more of the boys, and English 
amongst them, came out of the melee badly wounded, but 
they had accounted for twenty of the Comanches, who 
never would rob or murder any more, for they lay dead 
in their tracks, killed by the fire from the six-shooters 
at very short range. 

Meantime we, the latest comers, and the remnant of 
the attacking party were in a perilous position, for the 
Indians, shaken as they were by the furious onslaught 
we had seen, outnumbered us by nearly three to one, and, 
if they mounted and charged home, could pretty well 
ride over us. It was hopeless to attempt to rescue our 
fallen comrades, for they would be despatched with 
tomahawks the moment they fell ; all we could do was 
to look out for ourselves. 

I halted my little parity a couple of hundred yards off, 
and sent the horses to the rear, making the men lie down. 
With the survivors from that desperate charge we were 
twenty-eight all told, for four of the wounded were past 
any more fighting. Each man had his rifle and six- 
shooter, and if the Indians did get us, I knew we could 
make it pretty hot for them first. 

By this time the Comanches had got to their horses, 
and were ranged up in line in front of us. Evidently 
they meant charging, but I had good hope of stopping 
them, if only the boys kept steady. No time was to be 
lost, and from my position in the centre of the line I 
ordered the boys to fire alternate volleys from left to 
right when I gave the signal. With whoops and yells 
on came the savages, and it almost looked as if they 
meant to ride over us. As they came within a hundred 
yards or so they let fly their arrows, and the few who 
had rifles banged away at us, but without any result 
beyond grazing the heel of one of the boys with a bullet. 

Now they were only fifty yards off, and as yet we had 



KEEPING THEM ON THE RUN 401 

fired no shot. Then the signal was given, and the fifteen 
rifles on the left were emptied into " the brown " of them. 
A good many horses were riderless now, but the rest kept 
on till the volley on the right was poured into them, at 
very short range, whilst we on the left gave them the 
contents of our six-shooters. It was too hot for any 
Indians to stand, and now they wheeled right and left, 
and bolted as hard as they could go to get out of the fire, 
leaving seventeen dead and wounded behind them. 
One of the former, evidently the chief of the band, from 
his feather headgear, and who led his men gallantly 
enough, fell almost on top of us, shot clean through the 
heart. So they had got pretty close up before we turned 
them. 

The Indians being now well on the run, it was best 
policy to keep them at it ; besides, there were the stolen 
horses to be recovered, and we were bound to have some 
of them at any rate. Some five miles in front lay the 
Nueces River with its wide border of dense chaparral, 
and for that they were making as fast as they could go, 
driving the big mob of horses before them. " Boot and 
saddle " therefore was the word now, and after them we 
went as hard as we could gallop. But they had a longish 
start of us, and the covert the savages were bolting for 
seemed all too near. 

Every man rode his best in that race, and our horses 
having the legs of the Indian ponies, we gradually drew 
up to them, till we were not more than two or three 
hundred yards behind them. The chaparral was only 
about a mile ahead of them now, and how the beggars 
did ride to reach its shelter ! No thought of turning on 
their pursuers seemed to enter their heads ; their one 
idea was plainly enough to get to covert with as many of 
the horses as they could keep in front of them. Of course 
a good many of these had broken back during the pur- 
suit, and were now peacefully grazing on the prairie 
behind us, and could easily be gathered by and by. 

26 



402 MY COMPANY'S LAST INDIAN EIGHT 

The Comanches kept a fairly even line, though they 
were rather scattered in driving the horses, which ran in 
bunches. Each man lay almost flat on his barebacked 
pony, so that it wasn't very easy to shoot them at the 
gallop. However, I thought a volley would help to 
scatter them, and so let out more of the horses. There 
was no time to halt and fire, so we let drive with our 
rifles as we went, and, by good luck more than anything 
else, bowled over a couple of the Indians. This so scared 
the rest that they seemed to forget even their precious 
horses, and broke in all directions, bolting into the thick 
chaparral like so many hunted rabbits. They carried 
a good many of the loose horses with them, but we got 
seventy they left behind. 

It would have been quite useless, besides being very 
risky, to follow the Indians into the brush ; moreover, 
we had our wounded to look after, so took the back trail 
immediately, driving the captured horses before us. On 
the way we gathered forty-five more, so we did pretty 
well considering all things, for we had recovered one 
hundred and fifteen out of the two hundred they had 
stolen. 

On the scene of his rash exploit lay my poor friend 
Dan, with a spear thrust right through his body, and 
terribly hacked by tomahawks. It was the same with 
the other four, and all were dead, but not scalped or 
mutilated ; the savages had had no time for that. Of our 
six wounded, four were in desperate case ; and English 
amongst them, suffering, poor fellow, from severe spear 
wounds. He was then past speaking, and evidently 
dying. 

All we could do was to bind up the wounds as best we 
could, and, making litters with the Indians' spears and 
our own blankets, carry them as tenderly as possible to 
the nearest ranch, a long day's journey. Poor English 
never lived to reach it, but died just before sundown, 
still unconscious. The other three didn't live through 



A DEARLY BOUGHT VICTORY 403 

the night, so we had to mourn the loss of nine brave 
souls out of our little company. Truly a grievous loss, 
which might so easily have been avoided. Next day we 
dug their graves under the shade of some giant live-oaks, 
hard by the creek, and I read the English Church Burial 
Service over them, out of a tattered Prayer-book, found 
by the owner of the place after much search. 

Notwithstanding the whipping we had given the 
Comanches, and the spoil of horses we had taken, it was 
a sad and mournful party that marched into camp the 
day after the funeral. We had lost some of our best and 
bravest boys, but no one was more missed than my poor 
friend Dan, the pluckiest, cheeriest in all the company. 

Thirty-nine long years have passed since that last 
fight of ours with the Comanches, and now I suppose 
these savages have been exterminated, or driven over 
the border into Mexico. Where they roamed, plunder- 
ing and murdering, are now peaceful settlements and 
prosperous cattle-ranches, whose owners can sleep with- 
out fear of midnight raids and yelling savages. 

Well, " the old order changes," and in this case it must 
be a change for the better. 



CHAPTER II 

CATTLE-HUNTING ON THE CARISA 

It was on April 9, 1865, that Lee surrendered to General 
Grant at Appomattox Court House, but this was not 
officially known in Texas till more than a month after 
the event. 

Desperately as the South had clung to the hope of 
victory, and confidently as she trusted in the resourceful 
genius of her great leader, it had been patent to all 
thinking men for many months past that the great struggle 
between such unequal forces could have but one ending. 
And now that the end had come, I believe the feeling of 
the vast majority throughout the Southern States was 
one of relief. We in Texas, far away from the central 
theatre of the war, had suffered but comparatively little, 
but the great slave-holding States of the Confederacy 
were devastated and ruined, as it seemed then, beyond 
recovery. Reduced to misery and despair, all men were 
sick of fighting, and longed for peace ; but how would 
the triumphant Northerners treat their fallen foes now 
they were at last beaten to their knees ? That was the 
great question for us all. 

My own belief is that if we had realised that the Federal 
Government would behave as magnanimously as it did 
to those it was pleased to call " Rebels," the war would 
have ended much sooner. But the conduct of the war 
on the Federal side had given us no reason to believe in 
its clemency or its justice. In face of the constant re- 
monstrances of General Lee, and the noble example he 
set them, when Northern property and Northern lives 

404 



GENERAL LEE'S PROCLAMATION 405 

were at his mercy, the Federal commanders, with rare 
exceptions, treated the unfortunate Southerners with a 
harshness and a cruelty that were an everlasting disgrace 
to their cause. 

If any proof of this is wanted, it is only necessary to 
recall the proclamation issued to his troops by the great 
Southern leader when he invaded Pennsylvania. He was 
incapable of maligning his bitterest enemy, and, after 
reminding them of their obligation, as members of a 
civilised Christian State, to observe certain laws, whether 
in an enemy's country or their own, went on as follows : 
" The commanding General considers that no greater 
disgrace could befall the army, and through it our whole 
people, than the perpetration of the barbarous outrages 
upon the innocent and defenceless, and the wanton 
destruction of private property that have marked the 
course of the enemy in our own country." 

So, not only the leaders of the Secession movement, 
civil and military, but all those who had taken an active 
part in the war, had grave cause to fear for their liberty 
and their property. But to the surprise of all the 
world, and especially of the Southerners themselves, the 
victorious Federals behaved with a generosity and 
magnanimity for which no parallel can be found in 
history. Jefferson Davis, the President of the Con- 
federacy, suffered a short imprisonment, and was then 
released ; and no other punishment was inflicted on 
him, except the forfeiture of his civil rights. Every one 
else who chose to apply for the benefits of the amnesty 
proclaimed was restored to his full status as a citizen 
of the Union, as soon as he had taken the oath of al- 
legiance, or, as we called it in the South, the " ironclad 
oath." No man's property was confiscated save that 
of one, and he the greatest and the noblest of the 
Southerners. 

It is a standing disgrace to the people of the North, 
to their Congress and to their President, that General 



406 CATTLE-HUNTING ON THE CARISA 

Lee's ancestral estates and houses in Virginia were not 
restored to him. Even his wife's house at Arlington 
was pillaged of all the mementos of Washington, whose 
adopted son her father was, and when she petitioned 
Congress for their return was rudely refused. Un- 
fortunately Abraham Lincoln, whose greatness of soul 
all men have come to recognise, was dead, and Andrew 
Johnson, a very different man, reigned in his stead, or 
these things would never have been done. 

So General Lee, with the quiet heroism which was 
his chief est characteristic, ended his days in comparative 
poverty, as President of the College at Lexington, in 
Virginia ; and dying, left behind him an imperishable 
memory, enshrined in the hearts of all his people. 

Down in our corner of the late Confederacy we cer- 
tainly had no cause to complain of the treatment meted 
out to us by the Federal authorities, and for my own 
part I was on the most friendly terms with them from 
the very first. 

In the closing days of May 1865, San Antonio was 
occupied by a Federal force of two regiments of infantry 
and one of cavalry, and the town was made the head- 
quarters of the South-western District of the State. 

The troops were under the command of a smart young 
cavalry general who had served with some distinction 
in the war, but whose name I have forgotten (in my 
diary I only refer to him as " the General "), but I re- 
member he was killed some years after the Civil War 
in the last big fight with the Apache Indians, on the 
north-west frontier, when many of his command also 
lost their lives. 

The leading lawyer in San Antonio was a Mr. Cleave- 
land, who, though a man of strong Northern proclivities, 
had been popular with all parties throughout the war. 
Of course he was discreet enough to keep his opinions 
to himself, except in intercourse with friends he could 
trust, of whom I was one. He took no part either for 



NORTHERN CLEMENCY 407 

or against the Southern cause, and though his leanings 
were pretty well known, he was never molested even 
when party feeling ran highest. He then, on the advent 
of the Federals, was at once made Mayor of the town, 
and they could not have chosen a better man ; for his 
intimate knowledge of the people, and his absolute 
impartiality, enabled him to bring order out of chaos 
in a surprisingly short time. Neither the General nor 
Cleaveland molested any one for his political opinions, 
or for any action done during the war, unless he had 
been guilty of some crime. 

The greater criminals, such as Wasp, Dunn, and Asa 
Minshul, had made themselves scarce before the arrival 
of the Federals ; but some of the smaller fry rashly re- 
mained behind, and suffered the penalty of their crimes, 
after trial by courts-martial. But I can vouch for it 
that no one was shot, or hanged, who did not richly 
deserve his fate. 

This leniency was the more remarkable since, as I 
have already told, many Unionists, notably those at 
Friedricksburg, were done to death most shamefully, 
without trial of any sort, by such ruffians as Dunn and 
Wasp. Indeed, as lately as the previous month of April 
there had been renewed trouble at this same place 
with the Germans, who were to a man strong Unionist 
sympathisers. 

I was ordered from headquarters to send a detach- 
ment with the troops sent against them. Not liking 
the work which I guessed would be done, I did not go 
myself, but sent my then senior Lieutenant with twenty 
men. There was some little righting, in which the 
Germans were easily beaten, and several prisoners were 
taken by our troops. These poor fellows had done 
nothing to exasperate their captors, for, as I have said, 
they made but a poor resistance, and I believe our total 
casualties did not exceed two, and they were only slightly 
wounded ; so there was no excuse for what followed. 



408 CATTLE-HUNTING ON THE CARISA 

The prisoners were confined in the lock-up of the 
little town ; a trumpery wooden building over which 
a weak guard was mounted. The very first night a 
mob of men appeared, overpowered the guard, broke 
open the place, took out the ten prisoners, and hanged 
them on the live-oaks outside the town. Whether this 
was done with the connivance of the officer command- 
ing the party I can't say, but I strongly suspect it 
was, though my subaltern averred that he, at any rate, 
knew nothing about it. 

It was an infamous, barbarous crime against humanity, 
and why it was perpetrated is difficult to imagine, except 
that a taste for blood seemed to possess the ruffian 
elements amongst us. For this business only two men 
were made amenable to justice, and they were tried 
by court-martial and shot at San Antonio. The chief 
culprit, a Major Roberts, who was in command of 
the party, and who must have connived at the murders, 
bolted into Mexico, and was no more seen on our side 
of the Rio Grande. 

The day we marched into the town to be disarmed 
and disbanded, my friend the Mayor introduced me to 
the General in very flattering terms, and we became 
at once very friendly. He was a fine soldierly man, 
without any " side " or pretence about him, and he 
treated me, in a short time, as though we had been 
comrades in arms instead of enemies arrayed against 
each other in one of the bitterest civil wars ever waged. 

All power, both civil and military, centred in the 
General in command of the district of San Antonio, which 
comprised the greater part of Western Texas, so that 
his hands, ably as he was assisted by my friend Cleave- 
land, were pretty full for some time. But when civil 
order, never very strongly established in Texas, had 
been in a measure restored, and Freedmen's Bureaux, to 
protect the negroes, and set them to work for wages, been 
duly formed, he had to turn his attention to the frontier 



A FLATTERING OFFER 409 

and the Indian troubles thereon, which now were getting 
rampant. It was at this time that, knowing my pretty 
intimate acquaintance with my friends the Comanches 
and Lepans and their ways, he consulted me a good 
deal about the establishment of frontier posts, the 
number of men required for each, etc. 

Of course I was glad to give him all the information 
in my power ; and I suppose he found it useful, for, to 
my great surprise, he one day offered me a captain's 
commission in a corps he contemplated raising locally 
for frontier service. I confess I was much flattered by 
the offer and, at first, almost tempted to accept it ; 
but my own affairs claimed my attention, if they were 
not to go to rack and ruin. Then, to take service under 
the Federal flag, so soon after our debacle, seemed 
almost like treachery to the Southern cause. So, after 
a day's consideration, I refused the offer with many 
thanks, assuring my friend that, if I could ever render 
any assistance to him on the frontier, my services were 
always at his disposal. So we parted the best of friends, 
and I went off to my ranch, to look after the remnant 
of my cattle left me by the Indians, Mexican raiders, 
and other thieves. There I met my friend the General 
again, for he put up with me a couple of days on his 
way up country to visit the frontier and establish his 
posts. 

When he left, I, at his urgent request, rode with him 
for a week, and acted as his guide over the country 
that was so new to him and so familiar to me, and we 
passed through the district along the Rio Grande which 
had so recently been the happy hunting-grounds of 
the Indian marauders. We came across plenty of 
deserted and ruined ranches, the scalps of whose owners 
were then probably drying in some Indian camp, but 
of the Indians themselves we saw nothing. No doubt 
they had heard from their Mexican spies of the advent 
of the Federal troopers, and had made themselves 



410 CATTLE-HUNTING ON THE CARISA 

scarce ; anyway, they took particular care not to show 
themselves. 

The General was an able man, and a capital organiser ; 
moreover he was determined to establish order on the 
wild frontier under his command as soon as might be. 
To this end he devoted an untiring energy, and spent 
the best part of his first year in Texas in the saddle 
riding round his posts, and keeping every one on the 
alert and up to their duty. The result was that by 
that time things assumed a very different aspect. Indian 
raids were not of course entirely put down, but they 
became comparatively few and far between, so that 
folks who were not too " scarey " could sleep in some 
degree of peace, even in a lonely ranch away out in the 
Rio Grande country. 

But, at the time I am writing of, my friend's Indian 
troubles were only beginning, whilst my own, I am 
happy to say, were nearly over. Only one more narrow 
escape did I have of losing my scalp to the Comanches ; 
but it was " touch and go " that time, and I got one 
of the worst scares the Indians ever gave me. It hap- 
pened in this wise : 

By this time I was heartily sick of Texas and its 
roughing, and was longing for a peep of the " Old 
Country " after six years' absence from its delights : 
moreover, there was a special attraction that drew me 
thither on which I need not further dilate. But un- 
fortunately I had found ranching in wartime was not 
a remunerative business, and, to put it plainly, I was 
very short of hard dollars. Paper-money I had, but it 
was by this time almost worthless, and the wind must 
be raised somehow. 

In Texas there was no market for cattle, and no hard 
cash to pay for them ; but in New Orleans it was different, 
for reports reached us that the demand there was brisk 
and the price good. To get the beeves there meant a 
drive of over seven hundred miles, and, after that, a 






A WARM RECEPTION 411 

steamboat journey some three days in length ; but it 
was my only resource, and I determined to try it. 

Cattle fit for market were rather scarce on the ranch, 
and to make up my number I set to work to collect those 
that Bacon's man, Blackaller, had turned loose on the 
Carisa Creek the previous spring. They were all prime 
steers when that rascal had taken them, and, as the 
pasture on the creek was first-rate, they should now be 
in tiptop order, if only I could find them. 

So, early in the month of June, with five vaqueros 
and spare horses, and fixed up for a month's trip, I 
started one lovely morning for my fifty-mile ride across 
the open prairie. The rains had freshened all nature ; 
the sun shone brightly, and the flowering cacti and 
acacias, then in fullest bloom, made the scene one of 
marvellous beauty, had one had time to enjoy it all. 
But, with all its brightness, the weather was treacherous, 
and we must push on if we were to reach the old 
" Mustanger's " camp at the head of the creek before 
nightfall. 

We got there just at dark, when down came the rain 
in a perfect deluge, which didn't cease for twenty-four 
hours. This was bad for cattle-hunting, making the 
ground deep and holding, and hard on the horses. But 
I had come out for those cattle, and meant to have them 
if they could be found ; so there was nothing for it but 
to make the best of it. The day after the rain ceased 
I rode over to a ranch some ten miles away to let the 
owner, with whom I was well acquainted, know I was in 
the country, and my errand there ; also hoping to get 
some help from him. I caught sight of my friend near 
the house, but the moment he saw me he bolted indoors, 
and presently emerged with a rifle in his hand, followed 
by another man, also armed. Naturally I pulled up in 
some surprise at my reception, but soon was reassured, 
for when he made me out, my host shouted, " Come 
along, and hitch your horse ; darned if I didn't reckon 



412 CATTLE-HUNTING ON THE CARISA 

it was some one else — mighty glad I didn't shoot afore I 
looked." 

" Well, anyway," I said, " what's the fuss ? " 

Then he told me that a week ago he had had a row with 
a man in the settlements, and had shot him, and was 
fully expecting a visit from his victim's friends, which 
was only natural. After a short stay I rode back to 
camp, my friend promising to send me some of his 
vaqueros the next day to help in the hunt ; for himself 
he intended going over into Mexico, to lie low for a few 
months, when his little affair would be forgotten. 

All that day my hands were high busy, drying our 
fixings, which had got pretty well drenched, for the old 
camp leaked like a sieve. The following morning broke 
fine and clear, and, as the weather seemed more settled, 
I sent the hands out to hunt up the horses, intending to 
begin work in the afternoon. As soon as they were gone, 
I strolled down to the creek to try my hand at fishing, 
and presently was enjoying first-rate sport in a deep 
reed-fringed pool a few hundred yards from camp. The 
water was in splendid condition after the rain, for the 
flood had not yet come down from the mountain sources 
of the stream ; the fish were as unsophisticated as fish 
could be, and had no suspicion that my bait of raw beef 
covered a treacherous hook ; so, though I am no " fisher- 
man " in the accepted sense of the word, I was doing as 
well as though I had been the most expert angler. 

I had spent an hour or two in this way, and began to 
wonder why the hands were so long gone, when suddenly 
I heard the sound of horses' feet in the distance. I 
rolled up my line, and began to " thread " my pile of 
fish to carry them back to camp, and then the horsemen, 
whoever they were, were close at hand. 

I was coming up the sloping bank, through the reeds, 
which were not quite as high as my head, and indeed 
was within a yard or two of the open ground, when it f 
occurred to me that the horses coming on at a steady 



PRYING EYES AT FAULT 413 

lope didn't sound as though they were loose. I had no 
idea, not the remotest, that Indians were in thq country, 
but I wasn't taking any risk, and, as the thought flashed 
into my mind, threw myself down in the covert. Not 
an instant too soon, for, as I peered through the screen 
of reeds, which barely hid me, I saw, to my horror, a 
band of a dozen Comanches ride up, driving before them 
two of my best saddle-horses. 

I frankly confess I never was in a bluer funk in all my 
life, and, when the whole party suddenly pulled up just 
opposite me, not twenty yards away, I made sure my last 
hour had come ; for I had only my six-shooter on me, 
my rifle was in camp, and I had no chance for my life. 

Their sharp ears had heard the rustle of the reeds as 
I threw myself down. Great heavens ! would they 
search for the cause ? I neither stirred nor breathed, 
but lay flat on the ground, watching every movement 
of my deadly foes. 

The leader of the band rode up to the edge of the reeds, 
but fortunately a little to my right, and peered into them. 
" Surely he will see me," I thought, "for the brute has 
eyes like a cat ! " But he didn't. 

Presently, though to me it seemed an eternity, he 
wheeled his pony round, saying in Spanish, " Son java- 
lines " (" they are peccary.") 

" Pienso que si," said another ("I think so "), and 
away they all rode. 

I have had many narrow escapes of my life amongst 
Indians, and folks even wilder perhaps than they are, 
but that I think was the narrowest of all, for two yards 
of reeds only divided me from death by torture. 

When I crawled out of my hiding-place, ten minutes 
later, the Indians had disappeared, and I went back to 
camp to wait for my vaqueros. In half an hour they 
turned up, having been kept so long looking for the two 
horses we should probably never see again, though I 
meant to have a try for them. They had seen nothing 



414 CATTLE-HUNTING ON THE CARISA 

of the Indians, or their trail, for the two stolen horses 
were " half-breeds," and had strayed away from the 
rest, and being hobbled had been easily caught. It was 
bad luck to lose two good horses like that, but I was 
fortunate not to have lost the lot, my vaqueros, and my 
own life as well. 

What befell on the rest of the trip, and what the 
Indians did after they left me, must, however, be reserved 
for another chapter ; and that will be the last I shall 
write of Indian " doings." 



CHAPTER III 

THE " PRAIRIE SCHOONER " ON THE HILL 

There was no time to be lost, if we were to catch up 
with the Indians and recover my horses ; so I at once 
sent one Mexican over to my ranch, to warn the boys 
to turn out and be ready with fresh horses, and another 
with a note to my friend with the little difficulty in the 
settlements. In this I told him what had happened, 
and asked him to follow the trail with all the boys he 
could muster, and I would meet him, with my party, on 
the Presidio road that evening. 

Though we pushed on all we knew, it was late after- 
noon before the three Mexicans and I reached the ranch, 
and then I found that the presence of Indians in the 
country was known before my messenger arrived, and 
that my friends Lem Brown and Jack Vinton, reinforced 
by three boys from the neighbourhood, and taking four 
Mexicans with them, had already started to follow the 
trail. There was nothing for it then but to go after 
them as soon as might be ; so as soon as fresh horses were 
caught and a hasty meal was eaten, we were in the 
saddle again, steering across the deep prairie by the 
guidance of the stars, for the old Presidio road, near 
which I hoped to cut the trail. Near midnight we struck 
the road, and presently came to the rendezvous, where 
I found my friend and three others, he having kindly 
deferred his trip across the Rio Grande to give me a 
helping hand. 

When, after a few hours' rest, we hit the trail, soon 
after daybreak, it was plain to see we had a big job on 

415 



416 THE " PRAIRIE SCHOONER " ON THE HILL 

hand, for it showed us we were following between forty 
and fifty Comanches, who were heading on a bee line for 
the Rio Grande, driving a big bunch of horses before 
them. Soon we struck the camp of my friends from 
my ranch, and, topping a rise on the prairie, saw them 
in the far distance, cutting along at a pace which it was 
quite evident couldn't last in that deep ground. In 
about an hour we overhauled them, their horses being 
pretty well done up, and then held a council of war. 

Lem Brown and his party from the ranch were not 
in much condition to hunt Indians, they having foolishly 
pumped out their horses. All told, we were only ten 
white men and seven " greasers " against forty or fifty 
Indians, who had got into the difficult country bordering 
the Rio Grande. I was very reluctant to turn back, for 
I had a strong hankering after the sight of those two 
stolen horses of mine ; moreover, I had heard at the 
ranch that a wagon, laden with goods for Mexico, had 
passed two days before, and, as its route lay by the 
Presidio road, there was great risk the Comanches might 
come across it. If that happened, God help the owner, 
his son, and the two men with them ! 

The majority, however, voted for returning, saying 
it was useless to follow any farther ; and as for the folks 
in the wagon, if the Indians had caught them, they 
would be past help by that time, and would be dead 
and scalped. So we turned back and separated ; I 
going off to my camp on the Carisa, with my Mexicans 
and Lem, who said he would come with me, the rest 
going their various ways. 

If only we had held on another half-dozen miles we 
should have spared one poor human being a day and 
night of terror and agony, and ourselves a long and 
wearisome ride ! But it was not to be. 

That night I got into camp quite late, and found the 
one Mexican I had left behind mighty glad to see us, 
though he said everything had been quiet. Next morning 



YOUNG NORMAN'S STORY 417 

early we were all starting out to hunt up those blessed 
cattle, when a messenger named Bell arrived from my 
ranch with the news that a poor young fellow had turned 
up there the previous afternoon, sorely wounded by the 
Indians, who had found and attacked the traders' wagon. 
Weak and exhausted from loss of blood, shoeless and 
almost naked, he had crawled in in a terrible plight, and 
this was the story he had told : 

His father, whose name was Norman, a trader from 
Eastern Texas, making his way into Mexico with a 
heavy load of goods, had camped just off the road a few 
miles ahead of where we had halted the previous day. 
They had turned out their eight yoke of cattle, and, 
having finished supper, the whole party were sitting 
round the camp fire, which, as they had no suspicion 
that Indians were in the country, was blazing cheerfully. 
Suddenly and stealthily the Comanches crept on them, 
and, as they sat round chatting and smoking in the 
bright firelight, poured a deadly volley of arrows into 
them. The father and one of the hands fell dead at 
once, but young Norman and a man named Lee, though 
badly wounded, jumped to their feet and ran off into the 
darkness, pursued by the yelling savages. 

How he escaped he didn't know, but he bolted through 
the thick cactus growth, regardless of the awful prickles, 
for dear life, and at last lay down under one of the great 
plants, and there remained till all was quiet. In his 
hiding-place he could hear the Indians searching for him, 
occasionally coming quite close to where he lay. Once 
he made sure his last hour had come, for an Indian 
stopped on the other side of his covert and thrust his 
lance under it, the point just grazing his leg ; but he 
neither moved nor cried out, and the prying savage 
passed on. He thought the man Lee might still be 
alive, for he had run with him some distance, and, like 
himself, might have found a safe hiding-place. 

Such was the young fellow's story, and of course there 

27 



418 THE " PRAIRIE SCHOONER 5 ON THE HILL 

was nothing for it but to postpone the cattle-hunt again, 
for the unfortunate man Lee must be rescued, if yet 
alive, the remains of the property secured, and the dead 
men buried. 

The messenger brought word that Jack Vinton, and 
the other boys at the ranch, would meet me on the 
Presidio road that afternoon, at the place we had turned 
back from so unfortunately the day before. The horses 
were already saddled, and our other preparations were 
soon finished, so that in less than half an hour from young 
Bell's arrival, he, on a fresh horse, and Lem, the three 
Mexicans, and myself were off for the old Presidio road 
once more. We met the rest of the boys as the sun was 
falling low in a cloudless sky, shining brilliantly on the 
level plain of the prairie, covered as far as the eye could 
reach with the golden yellow of the dwarf cacti in full 
bloom. A scene of peace and of beauty indeed ; but 
we pressed on unheeding, for we had other business to 
attend to that brooked no delay. 

Soon, as we topped a gentle rise on the prairie, we saw 
what we were in search of — the great tilted wagon, or 
" prairie schooner," standing in solitude on a low hill 
hard by the Las Olmas Creek. No smoke rose from the 
camp fire, and, as far as the eye could reach, no other 
token of human presence was visible, save only the 
wagon. The Indians had done their murderous work, 
and had gone, leaving their mutilated victims to the 
coyotes and the buzzards. 

But Lee might be alive, though I hadn't much hope 
of it ; so, whilst the rest of us rode forward in open 
order, and with rifles unslung, as a precaution against 
an Indian ambush, I sent three of the boys and the 
same number of Mexicans away to the right to search 
the cactus growth. Presently a shout from one of the 
former and a frantic waving of his hat told us the I 
wounded man was found. He lay hidden under the 
drooping, spiked leaves of a great yucca, and might 



IN DESPERATE PLIGHT 419 

never have been discovered but that he had just strength 
enough left to raise a feeble cry when he caught sight 
of the boys. 

He had been struck by several arrows, all of which, 
except one in the shoulder, he had managed to pull out, 
but that was beyond his reach. I thought he was dead, 
poor fellow, but a little aguadiente from one of the boys' 
flasks revived him, and then we carried him, as gently 
as we could, in a blanket litter to the wagon. There 
a sight met our eyes little calculated to soften the heart 
of a frontiersman towards " the poor Indian." Close 
to the cold ashes of their fire, where they had been so 
treacherously surprised, lay the lifeless bodies of the 
unfortunate men, scalped and mutilated in nameless 
fashion, and turned face downwards on the ground. 

From the sign we could read so plainly, it was clear 
enough both had been killed outright where they sat ; 
so far they were fortunate, for thus they escaped the 
tortures of these fiends in human shape, who luckily 
could only disport themselves with the poor dead bodies. 

We were near the crossing of the Rio Grande, and 
the light was failing rapidly, but so moved were we by 
the thirst for vengeance that, leaving one Mexican to 
look after Lee, we all set off at a lope on the broad trail, 
in the faint hope that we might overtake these wretches. 
We didn't stop to think, or we might have known it was 
useless to do so, as indeed it was ; for after riding on it 
best part of an hour, it took us over the river, and there 
we had to turn back. 

Next morning Lee had somewhat revived, and it 
seemed possible he might recover, though he was in a 
desperate plight from his neglected wounds and loss of 
blood, so we resolved to get him to the ranch as soon as 
possible. 

We found two yoke of cattle ; the rest had been killed 
by the Indians for their marrow-bones, delicacies so 
highly esteemed by them that they will often kill quite 



420 THE " PRAIMB SCHOONER M ON THE HILL 

a number (belonging to other people) and leave all the 
meat for the coyotes. We packed such of the goods 
as the Indians had left, which was not a great quantity, 
into the wagon, making as comfortable a bed as we 
could for the wounded man, and taking the two bodies 
with us, set off for my place. Slow and tiresome was 
the journey, and often we had to hitch our horses on 
to the wagon by the lariats, to help it over the deep 
ground ; but by midnight we arrived, and handed over 
our patient to the care of Pepa, my very wise old Mexican 
woman, who, with her simples and her herbs, was a 
wonderful mistress of the healing art. At any rate 
she managed to cure both Lee and young Norman, 
both pretty bad cases ; so that in about a month's time 
they could crawl round again, and presently seemed 
little the worse for their terrible adventures. 

At sunrise next day we laid the two murdered men 
to rest in rough shells, under the spreading shade of a 
great live-oak, hard by the graves of two of my vaqueros, 
recently killed by the Indians, and then I set off once 
more to resume the interrupted cattle-hunt. This time 
I had altogether ten hands with me — i.e. Lem Brown 
and nine vaqueros ; the latter all first-class cattle-men, 
as so many of these Mexicans are, and more at home 
in the saddle than anywhere else. 

Bearing in mind the class of animals they ride, mostly 
wild, half-broken horses, and the wonderful way they 
manage them, I think they are, take them for all in all, 
the finest horsemen I ever saw. I don't mean they are 
finished masters of the art, as understood in this country, 
but for cutting out a steer from a bunch of wild cattle, 
turning and twisting like cats in the doing of it, or 
" roping " a charging " beef," they are, I believe, 
unrivalled. 

I don't think I have described the way we worked a 
cattle-drive like this before, so perhaps it may be worth 
while to give some description of it. As we were many 



THROWING A STEER 421 

miles away from my corrals, we had to drive pretty 
well all the cattle we found towards the ranch, and 
there separate my own brand from others, for of course 
in an entirely open country like that they get a good 
deal mixed up. 

Beginning about twelve miles down country from 
camp, we found the first herd on the prairie, not very 
far from the thick chaparral that lines the creek, and 
from which of course we had to do all we knew to keep 
them out. Flanking out on either side at a gallop, 
we soon had the most of them under control, but every 
now and then some of the wildest and fastest cattle 
would make a dash for the bush and liberty. Then 
was the time to watch the doings of the vaqueros ; turn 
and twist and charge as the steer might, the Mexicans 
were generally too quick for the runaway, if he hadn't 
too much of a start, and back he had to come, reluctant, 
to the herd. 

They didn't often use their lariats, but sometimes, 
when a steer couldn't be headed off without it, they 
would rope him on the very edge of the chaparral. 
Out shot the raw-hide like lightning, over the horns 
went the noose, and, before he knew what had befallen 
him, the galloping steer was thrown heavily on to his 
side by a sudden dexterous twist to right or left of the 
active little cattle-horse, and there he lay sprawling 
with all the wind, and most of the fight, knocked out of 
him. For the time being he would be submissive enough, 
and could generally be driven back to the herd without 
much difficulty. 

At the season of the year in which we were working 
cattle congregate very much in the chaparral along the 
creek-sides, since the mosquitoes are not numerous 
enough to drive them out into the open. A month or 
two later these pests, which love the shelter of the trees, 
swarm in such incalculable numbers, and are so vicious 
in their attacks, that even the tough hides of the cattle 



422 THE " PRAIRIE SCHOONER " ON THE HILL 

fail to protect them, and out they must come on to the 
prairies. We were, therefore, very lucky in our first 
drive to find so many beeves out in the open, for hunting 
in the chaparral is quite a different matter, and is about 
the hardest work man and horse can do. 

Having then got our first herd pretty well under 
control, we left four of the vaqueros to keep it moving 
slowly along, whilst the rest of us went off to hunt up 
more cattle to drive to it. By noon we had collected 
a good bunch of about two hundred head, though of 
course a great many of these were not my own, and of 
those that were mine, only comparatively a few be- 
longed to the wild lot I was after. Now, coming to a 
good water-hole, shaded by hackberry- trees, laden with 
ripe fruit, we called a halt, stripped the horses for an 
hour's grass, and refreshed ourselves on dried beef, 
bread and coffee, the usual prairie fare, which is not 
half bad, when eaten with the best of sauces. 

Working again in the afternoon for an hour or so, 
we got another fifty head ; and then came the " cutting 
out " — i.e. the separating from the herd of those we 
wanted to drive to the ranch, the remainder being let 
go to wander away at their own sweet will. It is 
wonderful how they all hang together when you want 
to separate them, but at last by the free use of the lariats 
and by dint of much hard riding, we had singled out 
some forty head of first-class beeves, in which were 
included twenty-five of the Carisa Creek cattle. All 
these I dispatched to the ranch corrals, under charge 
of three vaqueros, and the rest of us turned back to 
camp, to be ready for another day's drive on the morrow. 

The night was dry and warm, so after a supper, after 
the pattern of the midday meal, washed down by strong 
black coffee, we were all presently stretched on our 
blankets, under the star-lit canopy of heaven, and slept 
the sleep of the weary, lulled by the night sounds that 
are so plaintive and so weird in those vast solitudes 



VOICES OF THE NIGHT 423 

Not that I for one wanted much lulling that night ; but 
often when camping out by myself on the prairies, miles 
from any human being, I have listened long to the voices 
of the night, which one soon learns to recognise. They 
give confidence, and a sense of security too, to the lonely 
watcher, for where they are heard there is but little fear 
of prowling foes ; when silence falls upon them, it is 
time to be on the alert, if you are in an Indian country 
especially. 

The great bullfrogs, recently aroused from their 
dry-weather slumbers in the mud of a water-hole by 
the coming of the rains, commence the concert with a 
vigour all their own, which is somewhat disconcerting 
at close range, but heard afar off is soothing, and not 
unmusical. When the deepening dusk veils all but your 
immediate surroundings, come the night- jars on noiseless 
wings, wheeling, circling, poising, close overhead, till 
their feathers almost brush your upturned face — " mos- 
quito-hawks " the natives call them ; and all night long 
they are busy swallowing wholesale these and other 
flying enemies of poor humanity. 

Now as the last gleam of light dies in the western sky, 
the dwarf owls from the neighbouring clumps of live- 
oaks begin their ceaseless queries of " Who 're you, 
who're you ? " in low tones, " most musical, most 
melancholy." 

Afar off, in the chaparral by the creek, the great 
green cicadse, as large as locusts, begin to drum their 
wings, with shrill whistling ; whilst their small cousins 
the little brown grasshoppers in the herbage all around 
utter their insistent " Hist ! hist ! " below their breath, 
like some stage villain in a minor theatre. Of sounds 
not quite so pleasant as these is the curious lowing cry 
of the solitary bittern, bewailing the scarcity of fish, 
as he stands knee-deep in the shallows of the creek ; 
and you rejoice in your heart of hearts that he is not 
gregarious in his habits. 



424 THE " PRAIRIE SCHOONER " ON THE HILL 

Far over the prairie comes the baying of the great 
grey wolves and the barking of the coyotes, hunting 
the deer and antelope, or possibly your own cattle, to 
try and cut out some of the calves. These are voices 
of the night that startle you at times from your slumbers ; 
as when once a small pack of big " lobos " came driving 
close past my solitary camp in hot pursuit of their prey. 
So near they came that, as I sat up half dazed with 
sleep and fumbled for my six-shooter, not well knowing 
what the rushing sound might mean, I saw their misty 
forms dart by, and heard the patter of their many feet 
and the snapping of their hungry jaws as they ran their 
quarry in view ; but so swiftly did the chase pass by 
that, before I could shoot, it had vanished into the 
darkness of the night. 

But this night no lulling of soft voices was necessary 
to induce sleep, nor could any harsh ones break it ; we 
were all too tired for that, though an hour or so before 
day we were astir again, cooking breakfast and boiling 
coffee, preparatory to an early start ; for that day we 
were going to hunt the chaparral, and had all our work 
cut out. There I felt sure of finding more of my wild 
cattle than in the open, and was not disappointed. 

Riding down the creek-side some miles before we 
commenced, we drove back towards camp. At that spot 
the chaparral was about half a mile wide, so we formed 
line with the inner flank thrown forward very consider- 
ably, so as gradually to edge the cattle out into the 
open. 

But first I must try to give some idea of what chaparral 
is like, before I describe the driving. The main growth 
is " mesquite," a bushy, low tree bearing a plentiful 
crop of pods, of which cattle and other animals are very 
fond. The loftier timber is live-oak and cedar ; and 
the undergrowth of hackberry and other bushes, mostly 
provided with a full armament of thorns, is very dense. 
Everywhere through this run the prickly and tiger- 



DRIVING IN THE CHAPARRAL 425 

claw bamboos, and often the vines, that cling and 
climb to the tops of the highest trees, make an almost 
impenetrable network. Here and there in this thick 
scrub are to be found grassy open glades, but never of 
any great width. 

The line advances with much shouting and hallooing, 
in fact with all the noise that a dozen able-bodied human 
beings can raise, and presently a bunch of cattle is started. 
The din increases. Crash ! bang ! through the under- 
growth go the beasts at a surprising pace, and after them 
we scramble and stumble, as best we may. The inner 
flank man fires his six-shooter now and then to tell his 
position, and the rest follow in such order as they can, 
keeping a sharp-look out for back-breaking steers. 

Across an open glade scuttles a bunch of peccary, with 
much grunting and snapping of tusks ; and a loud and 
angry gobbling tells you that you have disturbed an 
ancient turkey and his harem at their early breakfast 
of hackberries. 

These flutter off, or take wing across the creek, and are 
no more seen ; and then perhaps you catch a fleeting 
glimpse of the brown-red coat of a deer, or antelope, as he 
steals on before the drive. But all these, and many other 
ferce natures we put up, are all unheeded, for we have 
as much as we can do to keep the cattle ahead of us. 

This scrambling racket goes on for half an hour, perhaps 
an hour, and when at last we emerge into the open, with 
torn hands and faces, and clothes rather the worse for 
wear, we are lucky if we have a dozen or so cattle in front 
of us. No time is there for rest, or even for taking 
breath, for the steers we have got must be hustled and 
bustled far out on to the open prairie, or they will break 
back into covert again to a certainty. There they are 
left in charge of a vaquero, and the rest of us go back 
for another drive. 

The hunt went on, with varying success, for eight 
days longer, by which time both men and horses were 



426 THE " PRAIRIE SCHOONER " ON THE HILL 

pretty well done up. I was fairly satisfied with the 
result, for I had 250 prime steers, mostly from four to five 
years old, safely penned in the corrals. 

At the ranch I found a messenger from Don Immanuel 
Garcia, Alcalde of the little Mexican town of San Juan, a 
couple of days' ride across the Rio Grande, with whom 
I had had previous dealings in the cattle line. He sent 
word that, owing to the war, there was a brisk demand 
for beeves, and that he could take fifty or a hundred, at 
a good price, if I had them to sell. 

It was a tempting offer, so instead of starting at once 
on my long drive to New Orleans, I took the smaller num- 
ber across the river, with what result I must tell in another 
chapter. 



CHAPTER IV 

CATTLE-DEALING IN MEXICO 

The Rio Grande is a turbulent stream when the snows 
melt in the Sierras at its sources, and is then quite de- 
serving of the name the Mexicans have given it, " El Rio 
Bravo," or " fierce river." But, by the way, how charac- 
teristic of their nature is that little word ! " Bravo " 
means brave, or angry, or fierce ; cool courage with them, 
as indeed with most of the South- American Spanish races, 
is not common. 

The river was sufficiently " bravo " when we reached 
it with my little drove ; running strong and brown between 
its shelving banks at the " crossing." It took some time 
to force the cattle into the stream ; but once the plunge 
was taken, they were soon over, for they are wonderful 
swimmers, and fortunately not easy to drown. 

The country on the other side is much like Texas, but 
more thickly populated, the people living either in small 
" pueblos," or villages, or round some large " hacienda," 
or farm, in patriarchal fashion. The climate is so dry 
that not much cultivation is carried on, and that only by 
the aid of irrigation, which is very primitive in character. 
The farms therefore are mostly grazing, and produce only 
enough corn for the wants of the immediate neighbour- 
hood. 

I am writing of Mexico, or rather the small part of it I 
knew, nearly forty years ago, and wonderful changes have 
taken place since then under the strong, but beneficent, 
sway of that born ruler of men Porfirio Diaz. In those 
days the various States of the Republic, separated from 

427 



428 CATTLE-DEALING IN MEXICO 

the seat of central government in Mexico City by hun- 
dreds of miles, without railways or even decent roads 
to connect them, were bound together by the slenderest 
of ties, and " Pronunciamentos," headed by some am- 
bitious General or Governor of a State, were everyday 
occurrences. 

President Diaz was elected for the first time some 
thirty-one years ago, and is now serving his eighth 
term of office, to the general satisfaction of all his people. 
In that comparatively short time he has evolved order 
out of chaos ; has opened up the country by railways 
and roads, and developed its marvellously rich natural 
resources to such an extent that to-day Mexico is one of 
the most prosperous and well-governed countries on the 
continent, while its credit stands high on the bourses of 
the world. To have done all this in any country in the 
world would have been a marvel ; but to have done it in 
Mexico, and to have so changed the mixed race he rules 
as to convert it to industry and honesty is an achievement 
almost unique in the history of humanity. I have no 
doubt his all-pervading influence has been felt even in 
the remote States of Nuevo Leon and Coahuila, on the 
distant Rio Grande, which were best known to myself 
in the days of which I write, and which were then back- 
ward and uncivilised enough, goodness knows ! 

Two days' drive, over a dry, desolate-looking prairie, 
during which we passed two pretty large ranches, ap- 
parently devoted to the raising of goats, for they swarmed 
all around them, brought us late one evening to the 
Pueblo of San Juan, and a more poverty-stricken, un- 
inviting-looking place it would be hard to conceive. 
Its reputation was no better than its appearance, for, if 
not sorely maligned by rumour, its inhabitants chiefly 
followed the ancient and honourable occupation of horse 
and cattle stealing. 

Owing to the fact that their own neighbourhood didn't 
supply a sufficiency of these commodities, they mainly 







^RJP" 




THE PUEBLO OP SAN JUAN 429 

exercised their talents on our side of the Rio Grande, 
with much profit to themselves : of course if they were 
caught it was a case of a short shrift and a quick " look- 
up " a live-oak. We " Americanos " were therefore not so 
popular as we might have been with these freebooters, and, 
as I rode up the dirty, straggling street, the " greasers," 
seated at their doors enjoying the cool of the evening and 
the never-failing" cigarettas," cast very unfriendly glances 
at myself, and very hungry ones at my fine beeves. But 
when I inquired my way to the house of "mi amigo Don 
Immanuel el Alcalde," a change came over them at once, 
and half a dozen jumped up to show me the way. Don 
Immanuel was evidently a person in authority, which 
was so far satisfactory, for, though I of course went well 
armed, with a rifle and a couple of six-shooters, San Juan 
was not a healthy place for an " Americano " to venture 
into alone. Let me try to describe it as it then was, 
and perhaps is still, in that outlying country ; for the 
Mexican changes but slowly, and not then without much 
pressure brought to bear upon him. 

The single street, if such it can be called, went straggling 
up a rocky, sun-scorched slope, one of the low foothills 
of a distant range of mountains. The houses, of which 
there might be twenty or thirty, were set at all angles : 
some with their fronts, some with their backs, and others 
with their ends facing the street, through which a black 
and evil-smelling stream of sewage, and the like abomina- 
tions, slowly trickled, being much blocked on its down- 
ward course to the prairie by rocks and accumulations 
of refuse. Here and there these formed sizable pools, 
wherein wallowed the black pigs of the pueblo, which 
took not only their pastime therein, but drew most of 
their sustenance thereout. Except for a brief period of 
their existence, when they were penned and fed on maize, 
I don't think they got any other food. Certainly they 
didn't look as if they did, for they more resembled half- 
starved greyhounds than comfortable English porkers. 



430 CATTLE-DEALING IN MEXICO 

This same stream, a few hundred yards above the pueblo, 
ran clear and bright from its limestone source, and 
might have supplied the inhabitants with excellent drink- 
ing water at their very doors ; but that would have in- 
volved " mucho trabajo " — too much trouble. 

Next to the pigs, which pervaded the whole place, and 
the fowls, which roosted in every house, the most numer- 
ous inhabitants were curs of every degree, and in every 
stage of starvation, poor wretches ! I don't think 
there is any living thing in creation so hungry as a 
Mexican's dog. 

Peep into one of the houses, which are all much like, 
only that some are perhaps a shade less dirty than others. 
The walls are of adobe, or sun-burned clay, and the 
roofs of palmetto thatch, which is excellent covering, 
except that it harbours hosts of insect plagues. The 
floor is of beaten clay, hard and dry, and swarms with 
" pulgas y chinchas " — fleas and bugs, which perforce 
reside there, since the only furniture the house contains 
consists of two or three low wooden stools, a rickety table, 
and hammocks slung to the rafters for sleeping accom- 
modation. On this rickety table, set against the wall, 
stands the " Santo " ; a tawdry little image of the 
Virgin, or of the patron saint of the casa set in a glass 
case, decked with gawdy-coloured paper flowers, but an 
object of much reverence to the owner, who always doffs 
his sombrero to it on entering, usually crossing himself 
as well. 

His wife, or " La Senora," if she is young, will probably 
be good-looking, with large dark eyes and a bright com- 
plexion, which alas ! will fade so soon, in her life of 
drudgery. For she is the working partner in the firm, 
if any work is to be done, except cattle-tending or cattle- 
stealing, and these her lord and master does. She rises from 
her knees and, in reply to our greeting, gives us a pleasant 
" Buenos tardes, Senor ! " She was hard at work rubbing 
down maize, soaked in " lye " to soften it, on a grooved 



LA SENORA AND HER FAMILY 431 

stone with a rolling-pin, to convert it into paste for the 
" tortillas." These, something like substantial pancakes, 
are excellent when eaten hot, but when cold are an 
abomination to any self-respecting stomach. Hot or 
cold they are the staple of every Mexican's diet ; and not 
only are they eaten themselves but are also used in lieu 
of a spoon, to scoop up soup or gravy, or any such trifle ; 
and very handy tools too, in the hands of an expert, they 
prove to be. 

While La Sefiora is busy, as we have described, pre- 
paring the family meal, the " family," probably a numer- 
ous one, is reclining on the earthen floor in every stage 
of dirt and semi-, or entire, nakedness ; the elder children 
possibly boasting a shirt of the briefest, but the younger 
being clad in nature's garb alone. La Senora herself is 
apparently not overdressed, for, as well as a mere man 
can judge, she seems only to wear one garment, and 
that a loose, long cotton gown, ungirt at the waist, and 
reaching nearly to her shapely ankles. But business 
must not be interrupted ; so, with a polite " adios " on 
both sides, we depart. 

Don Immanuel's residence is somewhat different from 
the rest, for the worthy Alcalde, besides dispensing 
justice, keeps the only " venta," or wayside public-house, 
in the place. There he sells " aguadiente," or aniseed 
brandy, which fully merits its equivalent in English of 
" fire-water," and accommodates passing " arrieros," or 
muleteers, and other travellers, if such rare victims 
turn up. 

The Alcalde, like the rest of the inhabitants, is taking 
his ease in his hammock, but rises at our approach and, 
with a cordial greeting, bids me welcome to San Juan. 
The tired horses are taken to water, above the village, and 
the cattle sent with one of his vaqueros to the same pool, 
and thence to my host's corral, to be penned for the night. 
This done I am invited to enter the house, with that 
polite phrase which sounds so pretty, but means so little, 



432 CATTLE-DEALING IN MEXICO 

though invariably used in Mexico, " La casa es suya, 
Senor " (" the house is yours, sir "). 

The house, in this particular instance, being both 
venta and dwelling combined, is a low one-storied 
building about one hundred feet long, with the usual 
earthen floor. Three-fourths of its length is devoted to 
the accommodation of the four-footed guests, and the 
remainder, the floor of which is raised about a foot 
above the other, to that of the humans ; but there is 
no partition to shut off the stable from the dwelling- 
place. 

At the far end of the stable are six mules, with their 
packs but just unloaded resting behind them, whilst a 
hungry and inquisitive black pig is nuzzling at one of 
them, in the hope that perchance it may contain some- 
thing edible. The two arrieros, seated on low stools on 
either side of a little table, are eating their frugal supper 
of " gaspacho," or soup of oil, haricot beans, chili-peppers, 
pimentos, and pieces of black bread, on which mixture 
boiling water has been poured. If the meal is not ap- 
petising it is plentiful, for the wooden bowl into which 
each man dips his tortilla, with resolve to get his fair 
share, is nearly full. 

With Spanish politeness they rise to greet the stranger, 
and so catch sight of the marauding pig investigating 
the pack. " Maldito sea el puerco ! " they cry with one 
breath, and rush to the rescue. Away goes the puerco 
with screams that arouse three of his friends reposing 
in a corner hard by, and the hullabaloo disturbs all 
the hens who had gone to roost on the rafters. The 
racket is appalling for a time, but presently quiets down 
and all is peace again within. 

Outside, however, it is soon renewed, for La Senora, 
after greetings duly given, sallies forth with some of her 
offspring, on the hospitable errand of getting my supper. 
" El polio," or the chicken, destined for the sacrifice 
runs for his life, with vociferous remonstrance, in which 



A PLAGUE OF BOTH YOUR HOUSES! 433 

all his friends and relatives join ; but presently is bowled 
over by a clever shot with the short cudgel La Sefiora 
carries. 

With surprising rapidity he is plucked, split, and 
grilled to a turn on the hot embers, and served up with 
a pile of steaming tortillas, making a most excellent 
dish. This is followed by a bowl of " huevos y tomati," 
or in plain English, " scrambled eggs," cunningly mixed 
with finely chopped tomatoes — a first-rate compound. 
The supper is washed down with an abundance of good 
black coffee. Milk of course there is none, for, though 
there are plenty of cows about, no one in a Mexican 
pueblo would dream of taking the trouble to catch 
and milk them. Then comes the aguadiente, and every- 
body lights his, or her, cigarette, made of strong native 
tobacco, wrapped in " mazourka," or the leaf of the 
maize-cob, which is far better than any paper. Lazily 
we swing in our respective hammocks, and the Alcalde 
and I open the deal over the cattle I have brought, though 
without any hope, or expectation, of concluding it that 
night. Lucky if we can fix it up before the next 
evening ! 

Mexico was in those days in the throes of the bitter 
struggle between the Liberalistas, or Republicans, under 
their Dictator Juarez, and the unfortunate Emperor 
Maximilian, supported for a time by French bayonets. 
My friend Don Immanuel was a strong Liberal, but was, 
from his own account, terribly harried by each side 
in turn, till he was inclined to cry, " A plague of both 
your Houses ! " Only a few days ago, he said, a band 
of Liberals had come along and requisitioned horses, 
arms, and cattle. It is true they gave him a receipt, 
which he regarded as of very doubtful value as he didn't 
suppose for a moment the Government would ever 
acknowledge it. 

Next came a company of " Los Coutrarios," or 
Imperialists, and they took what they wanted, without 

28 



434 CATTLE-DEALING IN MEXICO 

even the formality of a receipt, and moreover carried 
off with them eight of his peons as unwilling recruits 
for their cause. 

As long as I could keep awake I listened to the tale 
of my host's wrongs, but at last weariness overcame 
me, and I slept ; but not for long. My foes had gathered 
thick and fast, and seemed bent on eating me alive : 
whether they dropped down on me from the thatch 
overhead, or whether they crawled down the hammock 
ropes, I know not, but, when I struck a light, my hammock 
was literally swarming with hungry " chinchas," or 
bugs. I turned the hammock over, shook out my 
enemies, and squashed as many as I could on the floor, 
and so back to bed again, to toss and turn till day- 
break. 

At the first gleam of light the whole household was 
astir, and whilst the early morning coffee was pre- 
paring, the Alcalde and I strolled up to the corrals 
to see to the cattle and horses. Everything was all 
right, and we were on the point of returning, when up 
galloped one of his vaqueros with the startling news 
that a body of mounted men, some thirty strong, had 
been seen about two miles off, and were evidently making 
for the pueblo. " They'll have the half of your beeves, 
if they're Liberals, and the whole of them if they are 
' Los Coutrarios,' amigo mio," said Don Immanuel ; 
" but we will see if we can't be too clever for them, 
malditos ladrones ! " He threw down the corral bars 
as he spoke ; out bolted the cattle, and away they 
went as hard as they could pelt, with two of my 
men and one of the Alcalde's at their heels, making 
for a deep ravine a little way off, there, it was to be 
hoped, to lie safely hid till the danger was overpast. 

Meantime the Alcalde and I strolled back to his house, 
and were beginning to sip our coffee on the piazza in 
front of it, when we were aware of the arrival of the 
Partido in the village. Down the stony street it came 



UNWELCOME GUESTS 435 

clattering, and, heralded by squealing pigs and yelping 
curs, pulled up in front of the venta. A motley crew 
enough to look upon, but well mounted and serviceable 
in appearance, all being armed with rifles and six-shooters. 
Uniform there was none, and the only distinguishing 
marks of the officer in command were the feather in 
his sombrero and the sword dangling by his side. 

There was nothing to indicate whether they were 
Liberals, and so possibly friendly with mine host, or 
Los Coutrarios and enemies, and I was deeply pondering 
which they were when, to my great relief, Don Immanuel 
jumped up and greeted the commander as an old friend. 
Presently he was introduced to me as Don Manuel 
Gutierrez, a well-known Republican leader, who had 
earned for himself a somewhat evil reputation amongst 
the Imperialists by his ruthless deeds, and whose fame 
had even crossed the Rio Grande. To all appearance 
he was " as mild a mannered man as ever cut a throat," 
and we soon became quite friendly. He was informed 
by Don Immanuel that I was a ranchero from across 
the river, come to see if there was any market for cattle 
in Mexico, as they were unsaleable in Texas. He smiled 
grimly at this and remarked that the market was there, 
but the difficulty was to get paid ; for they had no 
money, and the Imperialists were thieves ! 

El Capitan, for such he was, announced he would 
stay in San Juan till the following morning to rest his 
troop, which had a long march before it to Presidio, 
some fifty miles higher up the river. Could his friend 
Don Immanuel feed his men and horses for the day ? 
He had no money to give him, but plenty of receipt 
forms ! Of course he could, " con todo el gusto del 
mundo " ; but when the Captain's back was turned, I 
caught the victim shaking his clenched fist at him, 
with a horrible grimace. 

To make sure his friend didn't get wind of my beeves, 
Don Immanuel now sent an order for his men to drive 



436 CATTLE-DEALING IN MEXICO 

them some miles farther up the valley, there to remain 
till the coast was clear. The fact is that stern patriot 
intended selling them to the Imperialists, who would 
pay a good price, and he had no mind to be robbed of 
his profit ; which was just as well for me. 

Seeing there was no help for it, my host put the best 
face he could on it, and had one of his own cattle 
slaughtered, to feed his unwelcome guests. So towards 
evening there was great feasting in the pueblo, and 
especially in the venta, where the Alcalde entertained 
Don Manuel, his two Sergeants, and myself with a very 
special dish, dear to the hearts of all frontier Mexicans. 
This is the head of the bullock, baked, with all the hair 
on, in a hole in the ground, which, when properly heated, 
is covered with slabs of stone and earth piled on them. 
When thoroughly cooked the skin and hair peel off, and 
you have a dish which for tenderness, juiciness and 
flavour, is very hard to beat. 

After supper we started out to join the " fandango," 
or al fresco dance, on the hard-beaten earthen floor 
behind the venta. The music was discoursed by a 
violinist, and the dances mostly waltzes, though now 
and then a cotillion was called, or a " danza," the national 
dance, something like a very slow polka. Coffee was 
supplied " free gratis " by mine host, but any one who 
wanted aguadiente had to pay for it — as a matter of 
principle, I suppose. The fandango was kept up till 
near daybreak, though I retired early ; for the Mexican 
loves dancing with all his soul, and is generally a very 
good performer. 

Their overnight dissipation notwithstanding, Don 
Manuel's ragged troop was early on the road, to the no 
small relief of myself and Don Immanuel, who speeded 
the parting guests with a cup of coffee and a nip of 
aguadiente. In an hour or two my cattle were brought 
back to the corral, and my friend and I set to work 
to complete the deal we had commenced on my arrival. 



THE DEAL COMPLETED 437 

Finally, after an hour or two's haggling, I agreed to 
accept $12 apiece in hard cash. 

Then I saddled up, and with many " adios " and a 
" Vaya te con Dios " from La Sefiora, departed with 
my plunder, well satisfied with the result of my trip. 



CHAPTER V 

DROVING TO NEW ORLEANS 

After my return from Mexico, business matters at the 
ranch claimed my attention for some two months, so 
that it was not until September 15, 1865, that I was 
ready to start on my seven-hundred-mile drive to the 
Chafalaya River, en route for New Orleans. At sunrise 
that morning, then, I set out with 102 splendid steers, 
and accompanied by my friend Jack Vinton and four 
vaqueros. Each of us, including the Mexicans, had 
a spare horse, for driving wild cattle is no child's play, 
and soon wears out horseflesh. Such clothing and 
necessaries as we took were carried in our " malletas," 
or saddle-bags ; so we travelled in light marching order. 
| The cattle were very troublesome at first, and we 
made but slow progress, so that it was the 18th before 
we reached the first creek west of San Antonio. There, 
the following day, we were joined by Dick Lemmons 
and four more vaqueros, who brought 118 additional 
beeves, from another part of the ranch, making my 
drove up to 220 head. They were all prime beasts, 
such as any cattle-raiser in this country might be proud 
to own ; indeed, I never saw a finer lot anywhere in 
the West, though I say it who shouldn't. 

Whenever my route led near a cattle-ranch, I penned 
my cattle at night, if possible, for I was mortally afraid 
of a stampede in the darkness, especially so comparatively 
near home as we then were. If no corrals were available 
they had to be herded all night ; and if the feed was not 
good and water scarce, and the beeves in consequence 

438 



A STORM AND A STAMPEDE 439 

restless, all hands had to turn out for that purpose. 
Well, the night after Lemmons joined us, we had to 
herd on the prairie a few miles east of San Antonio. 
The evening was close and oppressive, and the sun set 
with an angry glare I didn't like the look of ; but the 
cattle had had good water, grass was plentiful, and I 
dismissed care from my mind. Soon the half of us, 
who had the first watch in, had off-saddled and picketed 
our horses, and were enjoying our frugal supper of dried 
beef, bread and coffee. This dispatched, we rolled 
ourselves in our blankets and, with saddles for pillows, 
were presently asleep. 

It seemed to me I had only just dozed off, though 
they told me afterwards I had been snoring for two 
hours, when I was rudely awakened by a deluge of rain 
and an awful rolling, rending clap of thunder over- 
head. I was on my feet in an instant, but for the moment 
could see nothing in the inky blackness of the night, 
though in the distance I could hear, above the turmoil 
of the storm, the shouts of the men and the galloping of 
the horses and the cattle. Then came a blinding flash 
of lightning, that for one brief moment lit up the scene 
and showed me my drove scattering to all the four 
winds of heaven. It also showed me my horse straining 
at his lariat to join the fray. Fortunately it was good 
strong rawhide and held him, so that in less time than 
it takes to tell, we of the watch in were mounted and 
in hot pursuit of the vanished cattle, guided in our 
search by the lightning-flashes. 

What need to tell of the miseries of that dreadful 
night ? The wind and the rain buffeted and soaked 
us ; the thunder rolled overhead almost incessantly, 
and the cattle became wilder and more terrified the 
more we tried to stay their headlong flight. Fortunately 
for me the country was open, rolling prairie for miles 
and miles ; had it been brushy I should probably have 
lost the whole drove, at least temporarily. As it was, 



440 DROVING TO NEW ORLEANS 

when day at last broke, and we rounded up the cattle 
about twelve miles from camp, forty of them had dis- 
appeared. The remainder by this time were pretty well 
done up, so with half my hands and Jack Vinton I re- 
turned to camp with them, whilst Lemmons and the 
others set off to hunt up the absentees, with orders not 
to return without them. 

For ten days we waited, herding the cattle in the 
neighbourhood, without losing any more ; and then 
Lemmons came into camp, bringing only fifteen head 
with him. The other twenty-five no doubt had made 
a bee line for home and had for days been enjoying their 
native pastures on the Frio. 

It was a bad start, but I could wait no longer for fear 
of losing my market, as the season was already late and 
the way was long. Many were my misgivings as to how 
many more I should lose before I reached my journey's 
end, but I may say at once that I only lost five head 
besides these, and that in the almost impenetrable brush 
we got into on the borders of Louisiana. So, after all, 
I was fairly lucky in my drive. 

For the next ten days we kept steadily on our journey 
eastwards without any incident worth recording, passing 
gradually out of the purely ranching district of Western 
Texas into the region of cotton plantations and farms. 
Before the war the planters had been prosperous and, 
many of them, wealthy men, but now all that was changed. 
The ravages of war were not much in evidence till we 
neared the borders of Louisiana, but the planters had 
lost their slaves, and, with them, the bulk of their capital. 
Things were in a transition stage, and many of the 
freedmen refused to work at first, preferring to live on 
the produce of the " truck patches," or gardens, they 
cultivated as slaves, and on what they could steal. De- 
prived so suddenly of their labour, the masters, for the 
most part, sat down in dull, hopeless despair ; dig they 
could not, and " to beg they were ashamed " ; moreover, 



RUINED PLANTERS 441 

there were few to beg from with any hope of profit, for 
almost all their neighbours were reduced to the same 
depths of poverty. 

The planters in their days of prosperity had been an 
open-handed, hospitable folk, spending their incomes 
freely. No one thought of saving ; indeed, to do so 
would have savoured too much of the ways of the despised 
Northern traders ; so when evil days came they had 
no resources to fall back upon, and families, brought up 
in luxury and refinement, were reduced to dire want, if 
not absolute starvation. To this conduct of the freed- 
men there were, however, honourable exceptions, and 
on more than one plantation I passed, the former slaves 
were working for their old masters just as heretofore ; 
only now they were working for wages, or the expectation 
of them when better times came and " Massa " had 
money to pay them with. 

In these cases the planters had earned the affection of 
their negroes by kind treatment, and chiefly by never 
separating families if it could possibly be avoided. 
These kindly folk were often overrun by slaves for whom 
it was difficult to find work, though they had to be fed, 
clothed, and housed at the owner's expense, for nothing 
can stop the increase of the black races. Then the only 
remedy they could adopt was to let out their superfluous 
hands to work on the neighbouring plantations, or in 
the towns ; but they never sent them to auction at the 
slave-marts, or sold them to the dealers, who were always 
on the look-out for " likely " niggers, and would pay 
heavy prices for them too. So these men, when mis- 
fortune and ruin fell upon their neighbours, reaped 
the reward of their good deeds, and weathered the 
storm. 

One of the most curious and interesting cases I came 
across of freedmen standing by their old master was that 
of a mulatto named Carol Jones, who owned a small 
cotton plantation on the Sabine River, the boundary 






442 DROVING TO NEW ORLEANS 

between Texas and Louisiana. He was a man of in- 
telligence and some education, and before the war had 
owned some twenty niggers, and was well-to-do. 
Whether he had purchased, or been given, his freedom 
I don't remember ; but he was a strong Secessionist, and 
so popular with his white neighbours, though of course 
he had to remember his colour and not attempt to mix 
with them on terms of equality. This of course he would 
have had to do equally in the North, as in the South ; 
indeed, notwithstanding the fuss the Yankees made about 
the niggers and their wrongs, many of which were very 
real, they held them socially in greater abhorrence than 
did the Southerners. 

All his hands remained with him, and he and they 
appeared to be on the best of terms ; so he must have 
been a good master in the vanished days of slavery. 
This is the more remarkable since, as the ranker who 
gets a commission in the army is always the severest 
disciplinarian, so the workman who rises to be an em- 
ployer is usually the hardest taskmaster. We put up 
one night at his place, and received the best entertain- 
ment we had had for many a day, Jones, of course, 
waiting on the three white men at his own table. 

There is a great gulf fixed between white and black 
which, I gather, is ever widening in the Southern States ; 
and what the end of it will be, and whether it can ever be 
bridged over, no man can tell. The outlook, I fear, is 
ominous of trouble for the future, for there are already 
7,000,000 negroes, mainly in the Southern States. In 
another twenty-five years this number will be doubled ; 
and then, if a modus vivendi cannot be arranged be- 
tween the races, what is to be done with them ? Truly 
the curse of slavery has come home to roost ! 

When we went on our way, and bade good-bye to the 
friendly mulatto, I held out my hand to him. He, 
glancing shamefacedly at my companions, hesitated to 
take it, but, as I still held it out, at last grasped it, and 



DRIVING THROUGH BRUSH 443 

wrung it hard, then turned away with tears in his eyes. 
A little scene perhaps hardly worth recalling, only it 
speaks volumes anent the relations between the races. 
Jack and Dick scowled at the " nigger " as they turned 
their horses away, but said never a word. 

On October 8 we were nearing the Brazoo River, a 
wide stream 150 miles east of Austin. Here, either 
stupidly or maliciously, I was put on the wrong road, 
which took us forty miles out of our way and into the 
very thickest brush I ever drove cattle through. For 
three days and nights we floundered about in these 
thickets, wherein were no roads to guide us, finding 
little water and less grass. All this time the cattle 
were getting more and more restless and difficult to 
drive, and we had our clothes pretty well torn off us 
in the effort to keep them together. The fourth day 
things were no better, and that night my misfortunes 
culminated in a terrific thunderstorm and a deluge of 
rain. In the midst of this the cattle broke in all direc- 
tions, and nothing we could do could stop them. Since 
there was nothing else to be done, we camped just where 
we were and as we were — i.e. hungry and cold and wet — 
and waited for daylight. 

With the first streak of light we started out to search 
for the drove, though with no good hope of finding many 
of the cattle that day. I knew well enough the beeves 
wouldn't stop till they got out of the brush and found 
water and grass ; but how far would they have to go — 
and would they scatter, or bunch up together ? These 
things we could only guess at as we pushed on, following 
the widest trail through the brush, but never seeing 
hoof or horn all the morning. 

Towards afternoon, side trails began to come in right 
and left, and join the main one we were on ; instinct 
was guiding them to what they wanted, and pretty well 
the whole lot were steering for it straight ! The brush 
began to get less dense, then vanished entirely, and at 



444 DROVING TO NEW ORLEANS 

sundown we came out on a big clearing, some hundreds 
of acres in extent, with good grass, and a creek running 
through it. There were the cattle sure enough, scattered 
all over the place, making up for lost time, and all our 
troubles were over, for that day at least. When we 
came to round them up, all were there but three, and 
those I never saw again. 

The day after my lucky find we travelled through 
brush again, and then came out on a comparatively open 
" piney-barren " country, through which it was easy 
enough to drive, and, travelling easily, reached Trinity 
Creek on October 18. Here was a considerable extent 
of rich, well-timbered river-bottom land, with good 
plantations at intervals, but most of them, alas ! in 
woful plight. The next day the track we followed led 
us into thick brush again, and there I lost two more of 
my cattle. 

But now my troubles were at an end, for a time at 
least, for that evening we emerged at a good farm, be- 
longing to a Mr. Gorman, where was a large pen for the 
beeves ; and all hands could rest that night. Here I 
met a Mr. Duncan, a cattle-buyer from New Orleans, 
who made me an offer for all my stock. The cattle 
showed signs of their long journey and often scanty 
pasture ; moreover, there were conflicting rumours as 
to the state of the markets, so I made up my mind to 
sell, if I could get my price, though we didn't come to a 
deal that night. 

The next morning Duncan turned back with me, 
and having agreed the price at $4,875 for the lot, I handed 
over the 190 head to him at the next pen we came to, 
receiving $500 down, the balance to be paid in New 
Orleans. Having settled with my hands, I sent them 
back to the ranch with the horses, but of course had 
to go on myself with Duncan to get my cash in the city. 
There I intended to take steamer for Galveston, and 
thence make my way back to the ranch. If I had only 



THE END OF THE DRIVE 445 

done so, 1 should have saved myself from heavy loss, 
and much fruitless toil. 

Everything went smoothly on the rest of the journey, 
and on November 11 my fifty-seven days' drive ended 
at the boat-landing on the Chafalaya River. There the 
next day we shipped the cattle on the ss. Tatan, and 
the afternoon of the following day landed at Jeafferson 
City, on the outskirts of New Orleans. There, having 
got my cash all right, I said good-bye to Duncan, and 
was going to take the cars for the city, en route for home, 
when unfortunately an acquaintance I had made on 
the boat introduced me to a salesman named Noel, one 
of the biggest dealers in the cattle-yards. He showed 
me a big drove of hogs he had just bought from up- 
country, and told me there was a splendid market for 
them as the stocks were very low and the demand 
brisk. Finally, to cut a long story short, he persuaded 
me there was heaps of money in the spec. ; so, instead 
of going to Galveston, and so back to the ranch, I took 
the back passage on the Tatan to the boat-landing, and 
presently turned myself into a pig-drover, which was 
the most heart-breaking, hateful occupation I ever 
followed in all my varied experience. 

As we passed through the part of Eastern Texas border- 
ing on the Sabine River, I had noticed that the farmers 
thereabouts were great hog-raisers, an industry I had 
never come across since my early days in Western 
Virginia. A few of the settlers in Kansas kept a small 
number of pigs for their own use, but the cattlemen of 
Western Texas held the brutes in abhorrence, and one 
rarely saw them on the ranches in that country. What 
my friends there would have said to me, had they known 
I had turned pig-dealer, I don't know. I certainly never 
bragged of my doings in that line when I got back, and 
I don't think they ever got wind. 

We had a very pleasant run back to the cattle-landing, 
for I made the acquaintance of a Mr. Rabalais, a planter 



446 DROVING TO NEW ORLEANS 

from Bayou de Glade, who had seen much service with 
the Confederate forces in those parts. We passed the 
scenes of many of the fights in which he had taken part, 
and his descriptions of them were most interesting ; but 
these battles are now a twice-told tale, and space will 
not permit to re-tell them, for I must draw to the end 
of this long history of my doings. 

On November 16 1 parted from my friend and set out 
on my solitary ride back to Texas, recrossing the Sabine 
River on November 24. Two days later I turned off 
the road to a place called Jonesville, a small village, 
where lived a man named Brown, reputed to be the 
king of the hog-raisers in that district. 

I found he owned about 150 hogs himself, and that 
he was willing to sell me 100 of the best, and to help 
me hunt up as many more as could be got in the 
neighbourhood. 

I therefore made my headquarters with him, and by 
December 10 we had collected 377, which were penned 
on his farm, and fed on maize, till I was ready to start. 
Now the hogs in those parts are mostly turned loose 
in the woods to get their own living on the abundant 
mast of the live-oaks, and it is only when that runs 
short that they are driven up to be fed on corn. Con- 
sequently the brutes are as wild as hawks, and wonder- 
fully fleet of foot. Add to this a contrariness above all 
hogs whose acquaintance I had made before, and you 
may in part realise what an awful job it was to drive 
them, especially through a brushy country. 

In the open it was bad enough, for then, after going 
along sedately for a time, as though reduced to discipline 
and order, the leaders would take it into their heads 
to break back, followed by the bulk of the drove, and 
that meant a long run before they could be turned from 
the error of their ways. But in brush, who can describe 
the dreadful scene of trouble and confusion ? They 
scattered in all directions, and after them we had to go, 



A TEMPTING PROFIT 447 

tearing through thorns and briars and thickets, in the 
wild endeavour to stop them, till our clothes became 
as rags upon us. By the time we had gathered the 
first drove at Brown's place, my new suit that I had 
bought in New Orleans would scarce decently cover 
my nakedness, and had it not been for the kindness of 
Mrs. Brown (a good motherly woman), who made me 
a coat and pants out of her own home-spun cloth, I don't 
know what I should have done. 

The hogs were generally bought by weight, when the 
farmer owned a weighing machine ; if he didn't, a guess 
had to be made, with the result that the bargaining 
was almost interminable. I paid for my hogs, either 
by weight or by guess, 5 cents a pound, or thereabouts, 
and their average weight was 140 lb., so that altogether 
I invested $3,500 in hog flesh. When I left New 
Orleans they were fetching 9 cents per pound, so I 
had a good and substantial profit to look forward to, 
after deducting all expenses. That profit tempted me 
into the business, in the hope that, with the money 
realised by the sale of my cattle, I might have enough 
to carry me home to England, there to realise a longing 
that had been in my heart all through my stormy life 
in Texas. But it was not to be, and bitter was my 
disappointment. 

On December 11, with three negroes and a hired 
two-horse wagon to carry corn, I started from Brown's 
with a drove of two hundred head, leaving an American 
named Scanlan and three more niggers to follow on 
with the remaining 177 the next day. The droves were 
divided for the convenience of penning and feeding. 

On December 17, which was a Sunday, I picked up 
another lot of 133, which had been gathered for me by 
a Baptist preacher and his class-leader, who had ad- 
joining farms on the Angelina River. These I remember 
were all black but one, and I think wilder than even 
their relatives in the other droves. The preacher and 



448 DROVING TO NEW ORLEANS 

his friend made some little fuss about dealing on the 
" Sabbath," but when I said I couldn't stop, because of 
the other droves behind me, they waived their scruples, 
and made a pretty keen trade too. Here I hired another 
white man, named Davis, and three more niggers, as 
well as another wagon, and leaving him in charge of my 
original drove, went on with the new one myself that 
afternoon. 

I thought I knew by this time what running after 
half wild pigs meant, but this lot taught me my ignor- 
ance. However, I managed to drive them six miles 
before dark, and then penned them at a Mrs. McAnulty's 
farm. But I was clean done up, and good Mrs. Brown's 
new pants were nearly torn off me ! They were past 
mending, and I must have gone practically naked, had 
not Mrs. McAnulty, a kindly old Irishwoman, let me 
have a pair of her husband's. 

I don't propose to tell all the miseries I endured on 
that trip, between December 11 and January 6, 1866, 
on which latter date my troubles ended, for the time 
being, at the Chafalaya landing, but one very special 
one I may mention. Towards the latter part of De- 
cember we had a bad spell of rain, with bitter cold and 
sharp frosts at night, and the roads became almost 
impassable. On December 24 it culminated in a perfect 
deluge, that flooded all the low-lying lands. Through 
it all I had to ride backwards and forwards, as best I 
might, to look after the various droves and keep them 
going. 

Three days after this I had ridden seventeen miles 
back to the rear drove, and, catching up the leading 
one, soon after dark, found it and the hands floundering 
about in a swamp. The hogs were all swimming hither 
and thither in the deep water, and the men wading after 
them nearly up to their necks. Hitching my horse to 
the nearest tree, I plunged into the ice-cold water ; and 
it was cold ! Standing pretty close together in the 



IN A CYPRESS SWAMP 449 

swamp was a thicket of Cypress-trees, each one draped 
from top to bottom with festoons and sheets of grey 
moss, that added to the difficulty of getting about. 
By the light of a young moon we splashed about for 
four hours or more, for it was nearly midnight before 
we got through that horrible place, and then only with 
the loss of twenty-six hogs. Two hours more we toiled 
on through the mud, and then found a hospitable 
farmer, who penned the hogs and took us in and fed and 
warmed us. 

I don't think there is anything else worth noting, 
except that on reaching a small town called Alexandria, 
on the Red River, which had been partially burned by 
the Yankees, I found a coloured regiment quartered 
there, the first I had ever seen. They seemed to be 
having " high old times," and strutted about much 
pleased with their uniforms. Poor fellows ! it was a 
new sensation to them to be somebody. My niggers 
fraternised with them, and, I remember, got so drunk 
that they were good for nothing next day ! 

At the Chafalaya landing I shipped 463 hogs on the 
ss. Tatan, and no mortal was ever more thankful than 
I that my pig-driving was over. I must have looked 
like some dilapidated tramp when I stepped on board 
that boat, for my clothes were in rags and tatters, and 
I had only the remains of boots on my feet. However, 
I comforted myself with the thought that all my toils 
were over, and that now I should reap my reward, but 
what that really was I must tell in another chapter. 



29 



CHAPTER VI 

A TEXAN RAILWAY 

The good ship Tatan ran alongside the wharf at Jeafferson 
City at 2 p.m. on the 7th, and soon my hogs were safely 
penned in Noel's yard. They were a good lot and in 
very fair condition, notwithstanding their travels, for 
I had fed them well on maize en route. 

When I came to total up all my expenses, including 
payments for corn, hire of hands and wagons, freight 
to New Orleans, etc., I found the hogs stood me 
in a trifle over $9 apiece. That was more than I had 
calculated on, but if the market had kept up, I still 
might reckon on a fair profit. Off I went then to my 
flattering friend's office to see how the land lay. I told 
him how many hogs I had brought, and the trouble I 
had had in bringing them, and we strolled out to the 
pens to inspect them. 

" Yes," said he, "I guess they're a likely lot, but 
hogs is away down since you was here two months 
ago ; pity you couldn't ha' hurried up a bit, and got 
here sooner ! " 

" Get here sooner ! How the blazes could I do 
that ? " I cried. " Why, I had to drive the brutes all 
across Louisiana, all through the swamps and the mud 
— till I wished there was no such thing as a hog in all 
creation ; but what do you reckon they're worth now 
they are here ? " Slowly he shifted his quid of 
tobacco from one cheek to the other and then back 
again, but said nothing, whilst I listened, and waited to 
hear my fate. 

450 



GOOD SHOOTING 451 

At last, just as I was going to repeat my question, 
he squirted a brown stream of juice into the ear of a hog 
peacefully basking at his feet, with such force that it 
jumped up as if shot and went off with a grunt. " Now 
for my fate," I thought. But no ; not yet was I to know it. 

My friend seemed so pleased with his success that he 
moved further down the pen-side, his hat tilted well 
off his forehead, and his hands deep in the pockets of 
his pants, till he found another unsuspecting victim. 
This one, roused from his slumbers by the sound of our 
steps, raised his head and opened a wary eye, in which 
he instantly received such a charge of juice that he too 
jumped up and made off. Noel seemed satisfied with 
the execution he had wrought, for now he turned to 
me, and slowly said : " Waal, they're a likely lot, as I 
said afore, and if they'd been here two months ago, 
they'd ha' been worth $12.50. Now I put 'em at $7 
apiece, and not a cent more." 

That meant a loss of more than a thousand dollars, 
and the salesman saw my dismay, I suppose, for he 
quietly added, " But you needn't be in any darned 
hurry to sell. The market can't go much worse, and 
likely'll rise afore long ; so you hold on, and I shan't 
charge you nothing for penning, only for the corn." 
I believe the man was really disinterested and friendly, 
and gave me what he thought the best advice under the 
circumstances. Unfortunately for me I took it again, 
and determined to hold on for a week or two, hoping for 
better times. 

By the end of the first week the market was worse, 
and the best offer I could get was $6.50. The second 
week brought no improvement, and the miserable animals 
began to die of some disease, probably swine fever. 
Then in despair I put my stock in the hands of a com- 
mission agent, to sell as best he could before they all 
died, as I fully expected they would. To cut a long 
story short, he got rid of the last lot by the end of the 



452 A TEXAN RAILWAY 

third week, and I found myself a loser of quite $2,500, 
or about £500. " Served me right," I kept saying to 
myself, for going into such a speculation, instead of 
going back to my ranch with nearly £1,000 in my 
pocket. " Why had I been such a fool ? " But blaming 
myself and my folly brought no relief to my grievous 
disappointment, for now I saw that my long-looked-for 
trip home, and all it meant to me, had to be put off 
indefinitely. 

My three weeks' stay in New Orleans might, under 
other conditions, have been interesting enough, especially 
to a man like myself who had dwelt so long on the out- 
skirts of civilisation ; but I was too much worried about 
the vile hogs and my losses to enjoy myself. The 
" Queen of the South," as the natives call her, is a fine 
city, though I must confess the most malodorous I 
ever was in, and there was, even in those days, plenty 
to see as well as to smell. 

Though she was said by eloquent editors to be 
" groaning under the hated yoke of the Yankees," the 
groans were not audible. The theatres, of which there 
were several, were crowded night after night, as were 
the music-halls and dancing-saloons ; whilst in the 
houses of the wealthy, dinner-parties and balls were 
the order of the day. The endless quays and wharves 
on the levee, beside the Mississippi, began once more 
to fill with goods from all parts of the world ; though 
still the piles of cotton-bales, which before the war 
crowded them in every part, were few and far between. 
In fact, the city was rapidly recovering from the ruin 
and misery of the great struggle, in which she had suffered 
so deeply, and preparing to reoccupy her proud position 
of capital and chief emporium of the South and West. 

To divert my thoughts from my many worries and 
anxieties, my friends and acquaintances took me to vari- 
ous places of amusement, and I well remember hearing 
Artemus Ward lecture on the Mormons, at the Masonic 



NEW ORLEANS DIVERSIONS 453 

Hall. At that time he was quite unknown to fame on 
this side the Atlantic, for it was not, if I remember, till 
the following year that he visited England for the first 
and last time. His humour certainly was of the driest, 
and his stories, told without the ghost of a smile, were 
most comical. I never heard any audience laugh so 
heartily as his did that night. I thought his lecturing 
infinitely superior to his writings, which, for most people, 
are in a measure spoiled by the silly phonetic spelling 
he adopted. 

Another night I saw " Macbeth " at the St. Charles' 
Theatre, with the Keans in it, but, though the acting was 
of course good, and the play well put on the stage, I 
didn't enjoy it as I ought to have, for, in the most thrilling 
scenes, my thoughts would turn to the hog-pens down at 
Jeafferson City, and my dying pigs. 

Yet another night I saw Charlotte Thompson in " The 
Lady of Lyons," at the Varieties Theatre, and enjoyed 
her acting as well as my troubles would permit. 

On one occasion I had an amusing rencontre with a 
notorious gambler in a saloon in the city, of which there 
were plenty ; for the Southerners in those days were much 
given to cards, which were played everywhere — on the 
steamboats, in the hotels, and in the regular saloons set 
apart for the purpose. In all these places professional 
gamblers abounded, most of whom were pretty " hard 
cases," and quick with their six-shooters ; this they had 
to be, or they wouldn't have carried on their trade long. 
But this fellow, though a bouncer and a bully, had no 
real fight in him, which perhaps was lucky for me. 

With a couple of friends I strolled into one of these 
saloons, after the theatre, just to look on and pass the 
time. We called for drinks, and sat down to watch the 
proceedings, but without any intention of playing, for I 
at least never gambled. The game was " poker," than 
which there is none at which the really clever professional 
can more easily plunder his victims. The stakes were 



454 A TEXAN RAILWAY 

high, and the " pro." seemed to be having a very good 
time of it, for he raked in the dollars and notes nearly 
every time. At last one of the players was either cleared 
out or had enough of it, for he rose to go, and couldn't 
be persuaded to sit down again ; so probably my first 
surmise was correct. 

The gambler, however, was doing too well to leave off 
without trying for another victim, and he pitched upon 
me to fill the billet. Maybe he took me for a " young 
man from the country," which indeed I was, and for a 
greenhorn, which, in some respects, I was too ; but not in 
the matter of gamblers — I had seen too many of the gentry 
at work. He leaned over my friend, who sat next him, 
and, touching me on the shoulder, said, " I guess, stranger, 
you'll make one, and take a hand ? " 

I was just then immersed in a mental calculation of 
how much I had already lost by the confounded hogs, 
and how much more I was likely to lose before I had done 
with them, so I answered somewhat shortly, " No, I 
won't, I don't gamble " ; and then resumed my calcula- 
tions. Deep in my own not very pleasant thoughts, and 
with my hands in my pockets, I sat tilted back in my 
rocking-chair, and paid no heed to what was passing, till 
I heard the fellow say, with a sneering laugh, " Maybe 
the young fellow don't know how, but I reckon we can 
soon teach him ! " Then some of the others laughed too, 
and I looked up and saw they were laughing at me. Then 
the man leaned over again, and, touching me once 
more on the shoulder, said, " I guess you look as if a 
lesson would do you good ; come along right now, an' I'll 
give it you — you can't have a better master." 

Almost before he had done speaking, I jumped to my 
feet and clapped my six-shooter to his head. My friends 
jumped up^ too, and drew their weapons ; but no one else 
stirred. We had been too quick for the rowdies, of whom 
there were only three or four. Meanwhile my man sat 
pale and trembling, with all the bounce and laughter 



THE GAMBLER'S FUNK 455 

gone to terror and sheer funk. " Get out of this, you 
cheating rascal," I said, " or I'll shoot you like the dog 
you are " ; and I saw him to the door, and watched him 
go down the street in a hurry. His friends sat still and 
said never a word, so presently we departed, keeping of 
course a wary eye on the gamblers till we got out ; but 
they didn't molest us, and we thought ourselves well out 
of what might have been a very unpleasant adventure. 

By January 28 I had settled up with the commission 
merchants, who I believe robbed me after their kind, 
and that evening engaged a passage by the ss. Magnolia 
of the Harris line sailing for Galveston and Indianola 
next morning. By 8 a.m., on a lovely morning, we were 
under weigh and steaming down the broad Mississippi. 
As we left the city behind us, I shook off dull care as far 
as I could, consoling myself with the thought that after 
all I was still young, the world was wide, and I couldn't 
always meet with bad luck in it. We passed many 
plantations, chiefly of sugar ; but alas ! many of them 
were ruined, and the fine houses of their owners nothing 
but heaps of blackened stones and wood ; such ravages 
had the dogs of war wrought in this paradise of industry ! 

It was three days steaming to Indianola, and there I 
took passage in a schooner for Lavacca, fifteen miles 
distant, where I hoped to catch a train for Victoria, en 
route for San Antonio. I say hoped advisedly, for I 
gathered from my fellow passengers that the departure 
of the train was very uncertain, and its arrival at its 
destination still more so. However, we were assured 
at the hotel that it would start without fail at 2 p.m. the 
day after our arrival, and accordingly, in simple faith, 
we marched up to the station at that hour. No sign of 
the train was to be seen, and the shed that did duty for a 
station was quite deserted. After waiting for an hour 
or so we hunted round for the station master, and at last 
unearthed him in a saloon, taking his ease, and his drinks, 
in a rocking-chair. He evidently resented our inquiries 



456 A TEXAN RAILWAY 

as to the missing cars, and seemed annoyed at being 
disturbed by such foolish questions as when they were 
likely to start. At last we got him to admit that nobody 
knew the answer to that riddle ; it might be the next day, 
or the day after, or the day after that. " You've jist 
got to wait at the hotel till she comes in ; and I reckon 
she's broke down somewhere, or she'd ha' bin in afore 
now. You've no call to hurry any ; I'll let you know 
when she's ready " ; and with that we had to be content. 
This was on Thursday afternoon. All Friday there 
were no tidings of the missing conveyance till nearly 
midnight, when a message arrived from our friend the 
station master that she had turned up at last, and would 
probably start early next morning if the driver — " en- 
gineer," they called him — was sober enough ! Cheerful, to 
have one's train driven by a drunken man ! But any- 
thing was better than kicking one's heels in Lavacca and 
anathematising the railroad management. 

We received notice that the cars would start at 9 a.m., 
but an hour before that I realised we were doomed to 
disappointment again, for at that time everybody con- 
nected with the railroad, station master, conductor, and 
driver — all were hopelessly drunk at the hotel ! And as 
if this were not evident enough, they announced the 
fact to their unhappy victims by shouting in chorus, at 
short intervals, " The Railroad's drunk ! Hooray ! the 
Railroad's on the tight ! " 

Not till the following morning had they sufficiently 
recovered to make a start, but we did get off by 10 a.m. 
on the Sunday morning. 

Was ever such a road dignified by the name of a railway 
as this ? I never saw anything like it in all my travels. 
The ties were hardly within hailing distance of each other, 
and the rails were so bent and crooked that the engine 
could only keep the road with great difficulty. 

However, it was comforting to think that there wasn't 
much risk to life and limb if we did run off, for I vow an 



LEFT IN THE LURCH 457 

ox-wagon could easily have beaten us in a race. For 
about two miles we crawled and bumped along ; then came 
to a halt, and presently began a retrograde movement. 
The " engineer " had taken in so much whiskey over 
night that he had forgotten to take in any water for his 
boiler, and we had to return for it ! Two hours were 
wasted by this strategic movement to the rear, and then 
we started once more, but not before our thirsty " en- 
gineer " had moistened himself with more whiskey. 

Slowly we crept along for about twelve miles ; then 
came to a sudden halt, and discovered we had been left 
standing on the line, whilst the engine was steaming off 
by itself ! Many were the surmises as to the cause of 
this extraordinary proceeding, and most were of the 
opinion that it was a practical joke on the part of the 
drunken " engineer." Some of the more truculent 
passengers began to handle their six-shooters, and talk 
ominously of what they would do to him if, and when, 
he did return ; and all took a gloomy view of things in 
general, for we were eighteen miles from Victoria and 
twelve from Lavacca, and, except one man who had 
brought two bottles of champagne, no one had anything 
either eatable or drinkable with him. Moreover, between 
us and Victoria was nothing but open prairie, with not 
a single house upon it. 

At last the conductor — who, by the way, was a lieutenant 
in a black regiment of U.S. infantry, the line being run 
by the Government — informed us that it was the water 
difficulty that was stopping us once more. The " en- 
gineer," bemused as he still was, had neglected to take 
in enough at Lavacca, and had now gone on six miles 
to a water-hole, where he hoped to find sufficient. " And 
if he didn't find it ? " we asked. " Waal, then he's got 
to go on to Victoria to get it, I reckon." 

For two mortal hours we waited, with growing wrath 
and impatience, and still no sign of the engine that had 
so basely deserted us appeared. It was noon, and the 



458 A TEXAN RAILWAY 

blazing sun on the shelterless prairie beat down on those 
dog-boxes of cars till they were like ovens. Groups of 
angry passengers gathered about the conductor, whose 
position was far from pleasant ; we began to think we 
should have to walk the eighteen miles that lay between 
us and our goal, and it wasn't a cheerful prospect. 

Then out and spake an old fellow who suffered from 
rheumatism, a planter from Eastern Texas. " Say ! you 
Mister Conductor, you're the Boss of these one-horse cars 
on this dog-gorned track, and if you don't put out and 
fetch that ingine back, and quickly too, there's going to 
be trouble right here." So the conductor went, and we 
all turned out and watched him grow smaller and smaller, 
until he finally disappeared in the flickering heat of that 
apparently endless line of rails. Then we all sat down 
under the lee of the cars — it was too hot inside — and 
waited again. 

The hours sped slowly with the hungry, thirsty crowd, 
and it was not till dusk that those who had energy enough 
left to keep a look-out saw the cause of all our woes 
come puffing and rocking along the wretched line. Soon 
we all crowded into one car, and leaving all the others 
standing in the desert, for fear of another breakdown, 
steamed off with hope revived. It was 10 p.m. before 
we reached Victoria, and then we made a bee-line for its 
one hotel. When we had finished our supper I think 
I may say we had had our money's worth ; at any rate 
there wasn't much left for those who had the ill-luck to 
come after us. 

This was my first and only experience of a Texan 
railway, and is perhaps worth describing. Now, I believe, 
the trunk line from the States to Mexico runs somewhere 
through the country we so painfully traversed, and San 
Antonio is a great railway depot ! " The old order 
changeth," and it is lucky for railway travellers that 
it does. 

It was not till Tuesday morning, February 6, that I 



NEWS FROM MEXICO 459 

could continue my journey to San Antonio by stage coach, 
which did the trip either way once a week. We started 
at 9 a.m. and, with six good mules to draw us, did the 
forty miles to our first halting-place early in the evening, 
and by 2 p.m. next day reached our destination. 

It was nearly five months since I had heard any news 
from the ranch, and I lost no time in looking up my 
friends to learn the tidings from the frontier. From 
the best of these, Dan Cleaveland, the Mayor, I learned 
that things were in their usual state : no adequate 
protection had been provided by the Government, and 
the Indians had killed several frontiersmen, though, as 
far as he knew, my ranch had not been raided. 

I stayed only two days in San Antonio settling up 
important business, chief of which was paying most of 
my debts, and then, with scarce a dollar left in my pocket, 
set out to ride home by myself. Not in the best of 
spirits either, as may be imagined ; for I had lost five 
precious months of time, and many dollars, in my at- 
tempt to make a small pile for my homeward trip ; and 
now that was impossible and out of the question. But 
as I rode along trying to .make up my mind as to what 
I would do, a sudden resolve came to me. I wouldn't 
give up, but have one more try for a sight of the old 
home. 

I had met several prominent Mexicans in San Antonio, 
who had left their native country for reasons not al- 
together unconnected with the safety of their necks, 
and amongst them a General Ortega, who said he was 
de jure President of the Republic, only the con- 
founded " Liberates " wouldn't let him assume office. 
President, or not, he was a very agreeable man, and I 
had had a good deal of talk with him at Jacques' Hotel, 
when he told me amongst other things that cattle were 
selling well in Mexico, and that at Monterey, which 
was within reach from my ranch, there was a good 
market for them. 



460 A TEXAN RAILWAY 

That is what I would do, then : hunt up two or three 
hundred good steers, if such could be found on the 
range, and drive them over into Mexico. With any 
luck, I might still see old England before the summer 
was over. It was seven years since I had seen its 
green fields and pleasant, peaceful homesteads, and 
the longing for a sight of them, and of some of the folks 
that dwelt therein, was not to be restrained. 



CHAPTER VI L 

CATTLE IN SMALL COMPASS 

It was good to be on horseback once more, after the 
lumbering, jolting train and swaying stage, and I re- 
solved that, as long as I was in Texas, I would travel 
no other way. 

I had a touch of fever on me, which I suppose I 
had picked up at Indianola, which is a very feverish 
place, so had to make short stages, impatient as I was 
to get back to the ranch, and it was not until noon of 
the third day out from San Antonio that I rode up 
to the door of my own place. There I found my friend 
John Vinton, who had been left in charge during my 
absence, and his elder brother Jaque ; the latter I 
now met for the first time, and took to him at sight, 
forming an opinion of him which later on he justified 
in every way. 

Every one was surprised at my arrival, for they didn't 
even know I was back in Texas, and had had no news 
of me since my hands and I parted on the borders of 
Louisiana. That night the brothers and I sat long 
over our pipes, and I heard all the news of the frontier ; 
who had been killed by the Indians, and whose horses 
had been stolen by them and by the Mexican thieves. 
It was a long list, but again my ranch had escaped with 
small loss, only one horse having been taken. 

The season had been very dry on the Frio, and my 
cattle on the home range were in poor order ; nor had 
Master Jack Vinton looked after them particularly well, 
as I found as soon as I was well enough to ride round. 

461 



462 CATTLE IN SMALL COMPASS 

Amongst my possessions I had a fine herd of goats, 
which should have been corralled at night ; this had 
been neglected, and the lobos and coyotes had pretty 
well finished them off. Vinton hadn't taken the trouble 
to poison or hunt these vermin, and they were 
thick all over the range, enjoying themselves, no doubt, 
mightily at my expense. 

Immediately after my return I sent word to Dan 
Lemmons, who was herding a big bunch of beeves for 
me west of the Nueces River, to bring over all that were 
fit for market. 

After a week's rest, and a good dosing with quinine, 
I was fit for work once more, and with the Vintons and 
all the vaqueros that could be spared set out for a 
cattle-hunt on the Carisa Creek, to get the remnant of 
the fine beeves I had left behind the previous fall. If I 
was to have a chance of seeing old England this coming 
summer, there was no time to be lost ; for I reckoned 
it would take me a month to six weeks to get together 
the cattle I wanted ; and then Monterey was a good 
two hundred and fifty miles away, as the crow flies. 

In a previous chapter I have fully described a cattle- 
drive in this very region, so do not propose to give any 
details of this one, which, except for a bit of a brush 
with a small band of Comanches, was uneventful. This 
happened near the spot where they so nearly got me 
the year before. We had seen their sign in the 
neighbourhood, so were on the look-out for midnight 
marauders, and when they tried to stampede our 
horses, which were picketed close to camp, we treated 
them to a volley from our five rifles. It was a dark, 
moonless night, and we couldn't see the result, especially 
as the " vermin " cleared out in double-quick time, but 
the sign revealed by the morning light showed that 
one at least had been badly wounded, if not killed. 

By the third week in March we had got together 
280 good cattle, but it was real hard work to do it, 



A FEUD AND ITS END 463 

and all hands were in need of rest before starting on 
the long drive into Mexico ; consequently, it was the 
31st of the month before we got under weigh. Every- 
thing had been prepared overnight, and by daybreak 
on that day the cavalcade of five white men and six 
vaqueros, all mounted on fresh horses, and leading a 
spare one for each man, set out, steering a south-west 
course across the prairie for the Presidio crossing of the 
Rio Grande. 

We went well armed, of course, with rifles and six- 
shooters, for it was the season for Indian raids, or we 
might have trouble with Mexican guerillas over the 
border. But we saw no Indians, though we crossed the 
trail of a big band passing up country with a lot of 
horses ; and in Mexico no one molested us, so that 
we reached Monterey on April 22 without incident worth 
recording. 

I almost forgot to mention a piece of news we heard 
on the Leona, where we camped en route to the Carisa. 
It was a common enough incident of the frontier in 
those lawless days, but it shows how uncertain life was 
there, and both actors in the tragedy were well known 
to me. John Hill was a large stockman on the Leona, 
and a former member of my Ranger Company. He had 
a long-standing feud with John Burleson, a rancher on 
the Espantosa, about some trifling matter which I have 
forgotten. Hill was a splendid shot and especially 
deadly with his six-shooter, and it was always thought 
he would kill Burleson sooner or later, if the quarrel 
wasn't patched up. As it turned out, it was the former 
who was doomed. 

The two men met on the trail to San Antonio the 
evening before our arrival and not a mile from where 
we camped on the Leona. The quarrel was renewed ; 
hot words passed, and then both men drew their six- 
shooters. 

Burleson was quickest with his weapon, and hit poor 



464 CATTLE IN SMALL COMPASS 

Hill full in the chest, then turned his horse and fled 
for his life. Both men had fired together, but Hill's 
first shot only grazed his enemy's arm. Now, sorely 
wounded as he was, he steadied himself for a moment, 
and, taking a deliberate aim across his left arm, sent 
a bullet through Burleson's shoulder, high up ; then 
reeled from his horse, and, two hours later, was found 
dead on the prairie. Burleson fled into Mexico, for 
fear of Hill's friends, who were many, and was no more 
seen in Texas, at least during my stay there. 

Monterey was a good-sized town in the days of which 
I write, and, being the capital of the State of Nuevo 
Leon, was a fairly busy place ; it was also occupied by 
a considerable body of troops of the " Liberal " faction. 
But, like most Mexican towns that I have seen, it had 
a slipshod, poverty-stricken appearance ; the streets 
were of course " cobble " paved, with the usual sewer 
running down the middle ; the shops were few and ill- 
furnished, and there was an air of general listlessness 
peculiarly characteristic of a Spanish-American town. 
Indeed, I think the only really active inhabitants of 
the place were the fleas and bugs in the posada at which 
we put up, and they certainly were energetic and un- 
tiring ! 

The deal for my cattle was a long one, but by the 
end of the month I had got rid of the last lot. The 
prices varied, of course, but the average realised was 
$23 a head, in hard cash, no paper ! And, with a lighter 
heart than I had carried for many a day, I set out, 
with my little retinue, on the homeward journey on the 
morning of May 1. 

With my hard cash safely fastened on my led horse, 
I felt as though " home " was not so far off after all, 
for, after a brief halt at the ranch, I meant to start 
for that goal of all my hopes and longings. It was a 
ticklish job riding through that disturbed country with 
all that solid specie, and though we got through without 



JOHN VINTON IN CHARGE 465 

any adventures, it was a great relief when we reached 
the ranch in safety on the eleventh of the month. Arrived 
there, another difficulty presented itself, for I had no 
safe, or other secure lock-up, in which to place my 
money. So I e'en buried it at dead of night in the 
chaparral at the back of the ranch ! 

Five days I stayed at the ranch, and then, having 
arranged with John Vinton to take charge of every- 
thing for me during my absence, which probably would 
extend over many months, started for San Antonio, 
en route for Indianola, with Lemmons and a couple of 
vaqueros as escort for the specie. 

Vinton's remuneration was to be one-fourth of all 
the calves he branded, and $1 per head on all the beeves 
he sold ; the proceeds of sales, after deducting current 
expenses, such as wages, etc., to be remitted to me 
through my agents in San Antonio. At San Antonio 
I changed the bulk of my specie into a draft on Messrs. 
Spofforth Brothers, a firm of leading merchants in 
New York who had large business connections in Texas, 
and with whom I had subsequently very pleasant re- 
lations. 

It was a ride of nearly one hundred miles to Indianola, 
but I had had enough of lumbering stage coaches and 
" tight " railways, and therefore preferred to do the 
journey on horseback. At Indianola, after selling my 
horse and kit, I took passage to New Orleans ; and 
thence, after a brief stay, for yellow fever was raging 
in the city, sailed in one of the Houston Line steamers 
for New York. 

The first week in June saw me on board a fine Ham- 
burg-American steamer, bound for Southampton, and 
I felt really and truly as though I was going home at 
last ! Perhaps to a man used to club life in London or 
New York, a fine passage in a vessel like that may seem 
hardship, but to me, after my seven years of real roughing 
and often short commons, it appeared the very acme of 

30 



466 CATTLE IN SMALL COMPASS 

luxury. Nothing to do but to eat, drink, and enjoy 
yourself ! And what enjoyment it was to sit lazily 
on deck under the awning and watch the ever vary- 
ing, sunlit waves, and think that every beat of the 
paddles was bringing me nearer " the haven where I 
would be " ! 

It was mid-June when we landed at Southampton 
on a perfect summer morning such as, when you get it, 
makes mere existence a delight, and you are content 
" not to be doing, but to be." I maintain that for 
richness, and green luxuriance, there is nothing like 
the dear old country in full summer. Why, the very 
trim, green hedges and leafy woodlands are a delight 
to eyes that have longed for a sight of them for years, 
and the banished man is almost repaid for his banish- 
ment when once he looks upon them again. So we 
sped through that summer scene of fairyland in the 
prosaic London express, whilst I sat silent and absorbed, 
scarcely taking my eyes off it till we rattled into London, 
and the spell was broken. 

That evening I was at the old vicarage home once more, 
and in that quiet resting-place, and amongst my dearest 
friends, my wanderings and hardships were forgotten, 
and I was happy and content. 

When I left Texas I had it in my mind to return by 
the end of the year, but it was not till the spring of 
1867 that I turned my face westwards once more, and 
for the last time. By that time I was married, and 
though my wife was plucky enough to wish to go out 
with me, there were many good reasons why she should 
not. So early in April we parted, and I crossed the 
Atlantic again, intending to wind up my affairs and 
return in a few months to settle down in England for 
good. 

In the previous August I had received rather startling 
news from Jaque Vinton, who wrote from my ranch to 



MR. SPOFFORTH'S PROPOSAL 467 

tell me that his brother John had betrayed his trust, 
and gone off no one knew whither ; that he thought he 
had been gambling, to which he was much given, and 
had made away with some of my property. That he 
(Jaque) had gone out to the Frio, as soon as he knew of 
his brother's absence, and was looking after things for 
me, and would continue to do so till he received my in- 
structions. I had at once replied that I was much in- 
debted to him, and should be very glad if he could see 
his way to remain in charge till my return. He did 
remain, and looked after my interests as if they had 
been his own ; and in all our subsequent transactions 
proved himself the honourable, upright man I took him 
to be. 

Though I went out with the full intention of selling out 
my stock and property in Texas, the puzzle was how 
to do it without ruinous loss, for business there was at 
the lowest ebb, and no one seemed to have any money 
to invest, or if they had, deemed it prudent to place 
it where life and property were more secure. 

At New York I asked my friend Mr. Spofforth's advice, 
and he counselled me very strongly to remain in Texas, 
the possibilities of which as a stock country he was well 
acquainted with. He even reverted to a scheme I had 
propounded to him on my former visit, viz. to take up 
a big block of land on the coast between Galveston and 
Matagorda, and offered to finance me in a large cattle- 
raising business on that spot. It certainly was an ideal 
one for the purpose, being a peninsula containing some 
twenty leagues of good grasslands, with a narrow neck 
at the land end that could be easily fenced. It was 
a most tempting offer, and if I could have seen my way 
to make a home in Texas, I would gladly have accepted 
it — but that was out of the question. 

Finding I had made up my mind to clear out, my 
friend then advised me to drive my stock up into Missouri 
and Illinois, where prices were high, though he added 



468 CATTLE IN SMALL COMPASS 

he had heard a rumour that the State Legislatures were 
threatening to prohibit the import of Texan cattle, on 
the pretence that there was disease amongst them, but 
really to protect their own stockraisers, who feared 
competition. I thought the idea a good one, and started 
at once for Cairo in Illinois to see how the land lay. I 
soon discovered that the report was well founded, and 
that the Legislature had passed an act of prohibition 
just before I arrived. I then tried to get special per- 
mission for my own cattle, under stringent conditions 
of examination, but without success, and so had to wend 
my way back to Texas by devious railway routes, via 
New Orleans, and thence by steamer to Indianola, in 
great disappointment. 

At that place I met a Doctor Hughes, who had been 
surgeon to the U.S. troops quartered there, after its 
capture by the Yankees. Though we were as far asunder 
as the poles in politics, I found him a very " clever " 
fellow, which, being interpreted, means pleasant, or 
genial ; moreover he was a smart, enterprising man of 
business, with a fair amount of capital at his command. 

Though we had never met before, I believe I was 
known to him by reputation ; so when I propounded to 
him a scheme for turning my cattle into salt beef and 
extract of meat, which had been floating in my mind for 
some time, he listened very favourably, and presently 
agreed to join me in the venture. People do things 
quickly in those parts, so by the middle of May we had 
settled terms of partnership under which Hughes was 
to provide the bulk of the capital, and I the beeves ; 
profits to be divided equally. We had also secured 
premises on the outskirts of the town and had ordered 
hundreds of barrels, salt, and all necessary appliances 
for the extensive business we hoped to start as soon 
as I could get the first drove of cattle down to the 
coast. 

Everything then being arranged, I started off to the 



YELLOW JACK 469 

ranch to hunt up the cattle, which I hoped to drive down 
some time in July. 

I found my friend Jaque a great improvement on his 
brother John, for he had looked after the stock properly, 
and had branded a rare lot of calves, whilst their enemies, 
the lobos and coyotes, had had a bad time of it. With 
him, and half a dozen vaqueros, I went all over the 
whole of the extensive district over which my cattle 
ranged, and found I could reckon on nearly fifteen 
hundred in good condition, and fit to kill. 

Then we set to work to gather the first drove for 
Indianola, and by the middle of June had nearly two 
hundred first-class beeves penned in the corrals. We 
were just ready to start with these when I received a 
message from Hughes that the worst epidemic of yellow 
fever they had had in Indianola for many years had 
broken out ; that everybody who could get away, even 
the negroes, were leaving the place, and that business 
was entirely at a standstill. Under these conditions, 
of course the packing had to be put off till the fever 
abated, which probably would not be till the autumn, 
and I at once turned out the drove I had so laboriously 
collected. 

Hughes wrote that he had sent his family away, but 
was remaining on himself, because doctors were scarce 
and his duty was to look after the sick. He would keep 
an eye on our property and stores, and as I could do no 
good in Indianola, I had best remain at the ranch. This 
I did till nearly the middle of July, and then, not having 
received any tidings from Indianola for some weeks, 
went down to see how Hughes was getting on. I can't 
say he was very pleased to see me, for his first greeting 
was, " Why in creation have you come to this tarnation 
fever hole, where there's nothing for you to do ? " 

Notwithstanding this, I believe he really was glad to 
see me, though he urged me to clear out as soon as 
possible. " I'm well used to Yellow Jack," he said, 



470 CATTLE IN SMALL COMPASS 

" and it takes a powerful lot of it to kill me, but I don't 
want to lose my partner." I stayed only a few days, 
but long enough to see what a noble work he was doing 
amongst the scores of sick he attended with a devotion 
worthy of the best traditions of his profession. 

In this he was ably seconded by a confrere, who had 
served as surgeon to a regiment of Texan cavalry, 
Sam Slocum by name. He was a bachelor, and lived 
with his mother, a good old lady who was a strong 
Methodist. Mother and son were devoted to each other, 
though it must be confessed that she ruled Master 
Samuel rather strictly, for his good, or tried to do so. 
To this he submitted with a tolerably good grace, as 
a rule, though in moments of confidence he would some- 
times complain to a friend, " My Ma is such an almighty 
Christian ! " 

It was hoped that the worst of the fever would be 
over by the middle of September, and I returned to the 
ranch promising to have a drove of cattle ready by 
that time, Hughes undertaking to let me know how 
things progressed as often as he could. That month 
of August I spent on the Frio, where the monotony of 
existence was at times broken by Indian raids, of the 
same character I have so often previously described 
that it would be wearisome to give further details. 

By the end of the month the news came that the 
epidemic was rapidly dying out, and I immediately sent 
off the first bunch of cattle with Dan Lemmons in charge. 
On September 12 Hughes wrote that he expected to 
begin packing in a week's time, and that he would want 
two hundred more beeves by October 15 ; another two 
hundred by November 5, and after November 20 they 
might come as fast as I could get them down. I had 
collected a large staff of vaqueros, and engaged several 
Texan cattlemen as well, and now all were hard at work 
driving up the beeves from far and near. 

Having arranged with Jaque Vinton to send me 



BEEF-PACKING DOESN'T PAY 471 

down batches of cattle as required, I went down with 
the next drove myself, and, except for one or two visits 
to the ranch, remained at Indianola all that packing 
season. It was disagreeable, nasty work superintending 
the doings of the niggers in the slaughter-houses, but 
it had to be done by some one, and I took care that it 
was well and properly carried out. 

The extract-of-meat business was my friend Hughes's 
department, and he turned out some excellent stuff, 
much like that which to-day meets with such a ready 
sale all over the world. But in those days such pre- 
parations had not been popularised ; the demand for 
them was comparatively small and the market restricted, 
so it was not financially a success. Early in November 
the following entry appears in my diary : " My first 
droves of beeves are in barrels ; some of them are al- 
ready travelling in that snug shape to New Orleans ; 
others visit Galveston, and again others have to-day 
taken berths for New York, whilst a few favoured ones 
will in a day or two's time start for London. It remains 
to be seen how they will account for themselves. Well, 
I trust, for the first outlay is enormous." 

I may as well say at once that they did not account 
for themselves at all well, for when we had packed and 
" extracted " some twelve hundred of my best cattle, 
the pick of the range, we found we were losing money, 
and so dropped the business. Prime salt beef, such as 
we shipped, was worth only $9 a barrel ; salted tongues 
$10 per barrel, and as to the extract, the most expensive 
of all, we could hardly give it away ! The speculation 
was a failure, and, in the spring of 1868 I went back 
to the ranch to make arrangements for getting rid of it 
altogether. 

How to do so, on anything like remunerative terms, 
was the puzzle that exercised me greatly, and it was 
therefore a great relief to my mind when Jaque Vinton 
proposed to take it off my hands, and to pay for horses, 



472 CATTLE IN SMALL COMPASS 

cattle, ranch, and everything I had, by instalments of 
so much per annum. This being settled by the end of 
May, I handed over everything to Jaque, and he and I 
rode down to San Antonio, to give and receive the 
legal transfer of the property. 

There we spent a week together, whilst I wound up 
my affairs and said a last good-bye to many old friends 
and comrades. Then we parted, never to meet again, 
though we had much correspondence for some years, 
during which he loyally and honourably fulfilled his 
engagements with me. 

So the page of my life that I had opened in Virginia 
in 1852, little dreaming of the wild scenes with which 
it would be inscribed, was closed for ever, and I ex- 
changed the risk and stir of the Far West for the peace 
and quietness of a happy English country life. 

It was in July 1868 that I finally returned home ; 
and now, looking back through the mists of thirty-six 
years on the scenes I have attempted to depict, they 
seem almost like the phantoms of a dream. But they 
were real enough in the enacting, and, as I sit by my 
fireside and recall the memories of the past, I am filled 
with thankfulness that I am alive to tell the tale, which 
may be of interest to those who come after me ; since 
in these latter days the world's boundaries have grown 
narrow, life is more or less stereotyped, and the dramas 
I witnessed in Virginia, Kansas, and Texas can never be 
re-enacted. 



INDEX 



Adams, Mr., and the backwoods 

schoolmaster, 300 
America : fifty years ago, 3 ; 

railway travelling in, 137, 138 
Antonio, the Mexican, 272, 273 
Atchison, General Davy, 83 

Baily, George, of the Bluestone, 

24-9 
Banks, " Commissary," 363 
Bathing, primitive, in Medina, 177 
Bear story, 56 
Brig, Yankee, wreck of, in Rio 

Grande, 283 
Brownsville, 277, 279, 281, 282 
" Buck ague," 55 
Buffalo, 77, 127, 128 
" Buffalo Bill," 105 
Burnett of Princeton, 41-43, 

50 

Cacti : riding through, 330 ; lame 
horses and cattle, 353 

Camp Meeting, 34 

Canal passenger-boat, 7 

Cattle : driving and dealing in 
Virginia, 52 ; sounds round the 
corrals, 217-19 ; driving, 224-6 ; 
bowled over by a steer, 317 ; 
sufferings on the march, 354 ; 
driving on the Carisa, 411, 412, 
420-26 ; to San Juan, 427 ; 
to New Orleans, 438 ; stam- 
pede, 439 ; sell out, 444 ; 
drive to Monterey, 463 ; dis- 
pose of ranch, 472 

Church building, 38 

Cleaveland, Mayor of San An- 
tonio, 406 



Cline, the shooting of, 98-101 ; 
his return to Leavenworth City, 
133 
Cody, Colonel William, or " Buf- 
falo Bill," express rider, 105 

Comanches : doings in Guada- 
loupe, 167, 168 ; brush with, 
168-71 ; in Atacosa country, 
fight with, 190-94 ; their favour- 
ite formation, 193 ; Reeders 
and two sons killed by, 211, 
212 ; narrow escape at Frio 
Crossing, 255-7 ; paintings, 
326 ; Westfall on the trail of, 
329-31; we hold a " mott " 
on Pecos against, 332-5 ; store- 
house, 351 ; the race for the 
" mott," 374, 375 ; Jake Hill- 
son's good shot, 376 ; besiege 
Rheeder's ranch, 378 ; twenty- 
five Rangers to the rescue, 378 ; 
how we took it, 379-82 ; kill 
Dan Williams' cousin, 397 ; 
Dan's rashness, 398 ; mournful 
return, 403 ; narrow escape on 
Carisa Creek, 412-14 ; fruitless 
pursuit of, 415, 416 ; they at- 
tack trading party, 417 ; young 
Norman's story, 417 ; the 
plundered " prairie schooner," 
418 ; the last shot, 462 

Confederate States : paper-money, 
depreciation of, 286, 311 

Constable, a pot valiant, 99 

Corpus Christi, visit to, 152 

Cosgrove, 107 

Davis, lawyer of Corpus Christi, 
153 ; raises regiment of 



474 



INDEX 



Southern deserters, 292 ; we 
meet again, 297 ; and finally, 
298 

"Deer-lick," the, 16 

Deer : pet, 203 ; black-tailed, on 
Rio Grande, 357 

Delaware chiefs, the, " Johnny 
Coke," 74; " Bullbone," 78; 
reserve proclaimed for sale, 93 

Deserters, 274 ; their release, 
275 ; party near Beaver Lake, 
343 ; pursuit and surrender, 
343-5 ; their escape, 352, 359 

Diaz, President, 427 

Dodd, Dr., 270 

Dunn, Captain of Partizan 
Rangers : Provost, 235-7 ; at- 
tempt to get rid of him, 258-60 ; 
fooled by him, 260-61, 263 ; at 
Brownsville, 287-9 ; his friend 
Vidal, story of, 289-92 

Euston, Major, the fighting 
Editor, 75 

Federals : mistrust of, by South, 
404 ; their surprising clemency 
after victory, 405, 407 ; their 
General in San Antonio, 406 ; 
offers a commission, 409 ; on 
tour of frontier, 409 

Forest aisles, 29 

— fire, ride through, 44 
Fort Hudson, ruins of, 328 

— Lancaster, halt near, 348 ; 
Calif ornians at, 363 

— Leavenworth, 73 

— Riley, trip to, 77 

Franks, Colonel, 364 ; " Old 
Rip," 365 

Freedmen, conduct of, 440 

French, landowner, 8 ; his forest 
lands, 9 ; some of his settlers, 
10 ; murder of two cattle- 
dealers, 383-4 ; hanged, 385 ; 
his sons, Jim and Dick, 383, 
385-91 ; scene at Atacosa 
Court House, 390-92 

Friedricksburg, second expedi- 



tion to, 235-7 ; march thence 
after Bushwhackers, 237-44 ; 
our officers, 244 ; night attack 
on Germans, 246-8 ; murder of 
wounded, 249-50 ; Major Ro- 
berts' doings at, 407, 408 
Frio ranch, the : first visit to, 
184-90 ; second visit, 200 ; 
Christmas on the, 206 ; col- 
lecting cattle at, for Mexico, 
462 ; start for Monterey, 463 ; 
hand over to John Vinton, and 
start for home, 465 ; dispose 
of, to Jaque Vinton, 472 

Galliers, Jack, the Navvy, 5, 
7, 15, 18, 20, 30, 33, 48 

Gamblers rule at Leavenworth 
City, 75 ; all " Sound on the 
Goose," or pro-Slavery men, 75 

Garcia : Juan, vaquero ; de- 
scription of, 183, 184 ; Don 
Immanuel, Alcalde of San Juan, 
426 ; his " venta," 431 ; ar- 
rival of Partido, 434 ; Gutier- 
rez, Don Manuel, 435 ; his 
entertainment, 436 

Gordon, murderers of, 67-9 

Grant, General, 404 

Green, " Daddy," his gallant 
charge, 179 

Hanging, narrow escape from, 

89-92 
Hatch, Major: long scout with, 
324 ; wild-goose chase to Fort 
Lancaster, 325 ; wants to hang 
deserters, 345, 346, 354; part 
company with, 359-62 
Hendricks, Margaret, 130-33 
Herbert, General, 233, 234 
Herndon, Mr. and Mrs., 36, 49, 59 
Hogs, 445 ; buying in Eastern 
Texas, 446-8 ; contrariness of, 
446-8 ; miseries of driving, 
449 ; market, heavy loss, 450- 
52 
Hood, General, 212, 213 ; his gal- 
lant deed at Gaines' Mill, 213-16 



INDEX 



475 



Horses, 21, 31 ; horses stray, 155 ; 
recovered by Mexican vaquero, 
156 ; horse-stealers from Mexi- 
co, 221 

Houston, ex-Governor, his slaves, 
142 

Howard, "Colonel," 67 

Hughes, Dr., of Indianola, 468 ; 
fights yellow fever, 469, 470 

Hunter, Major : in command of 
Fort Lancaster expedition, 364 ; 
join him at Dhanis, 366 ; 
strength of forces, 366 ; recon- 
naissance, and plan of attack, 
367-9 ; disposition of force, 
369 ; rout of enemy, 370-72 

Hunting : " still," on Bluestone, 
39 ; general description of, in 
Virginia, 54 ; on the Frio, 
206-10 j fine sport, 321, 322 

Indianola, 148, 149 

Johns, 312, 314 

Johnson, Colonel Sydney, 204 

Kansas : the start for, 59-63 ; 
Cincinnati to St. Louis by 
road, 63 ; political excitement, 
79-82 ; U.S. Government stop 
" war " in, 92 ; preparations for 
leaving, 134, 135 ; hurriedly 
revisited, 139, 140 
Keans, the, at New Orleans, 452 
Knights of the Golden Circle, 160 

Lavacca, Texas, boasts railway 
to Victoria, 455 ; a remarkable 
road, and drunken " engineer," 
457 ; the lost engine, 458 

Lawrence, sack of, 85, 86 

Leavenworth " City," 75 

Lee, General : meeting with, 161, 
162 ; shut up in Petersburg ; 
despondency of South, 395 ; 
surrenders to General Grant, 
404 ; proclamation to army, 405 

Logging, 32 

Luck, Lieutenant : his antece- 
dents, 244 ; murders wounded 



prisoners, 250 ; gets serious 
warning, 347 

Magruder, General : retakes Gal- 
veston, 268 ; a fighting man 
with a weakness, 302 ; defeats 
" Commissary " Banks, 363 

" Major, the," of Val Verde, 166 

Manor, the dog, 5 ; stolen at 
Cincinnati, 63 ; recovered at 
St. Louis, 65 

Massachusetts Emigrants' Aid 
Society, the, 84 

Matamoras, 280, 281, 309 

McCarthy, the Ranger, 334 

Mexican : vaqueros as horsemen, 
420 ; border land, 427 ; Presi- 
dent Porfirio Diaz, rule of, 
427, 428 ; Pueblo of San Juan, 
description of, 428-30 ; a house 
and its inhabitants, 430, 431 ; 
Don Immanuel's " venta," or 
public-house, 431, 432 ; scenes 
in, 432, 433 ; " Liberalistas " 
and " Los Coutrarios," 433, 
434 ; hungry chinchas, 434 ; 
arrival of Partido at, and 
entertainment of, 435, 436 ; 
hiding cattle from, 435 ; de 
parture of, 436 ; " Vaya te con 
Dios ! " 437 

Miliner, capture of, and its sequel , 
120-24 

Miller, A. B. : boss sportsman, 
75 ; Captain of Rangers, 83 ; 
his gambling saloon and bar, 
95 

Minshul, Asa, head of Vigilance 
Committee, 199 ; the story of 
his rope, 200 

Minshul, Captain, son of Asa, 377 

" Missiones " in Texas, ruined, 
176 

Mississippi, orange groves on, 142 

Molesby, 111-13 

Monticello, claim at, 101-4; elected 
Supervisor for, 109 ; law pro- 
ceedings anent claim, 115-17 ; 
sold, 135 



476 



INDEX 



Mustangs : running with stray 
horses 219, 220; how the 
Mexicans break, 317 

New Orleans : the " Queen of 
the South," 452 ; condition 
after the war, 452 ; Artemus 
Ward, the Keans, and Charlotte 
Thompson at, 452, 453 ; ren- 
contre in gambling saloon, 
453-5 ; departure from, 455 

Newspapers in camp, 272 ; war- 
like Editors of, 311 

Noel, Mr., 445 ; his cold comfort, 
450 ; his expensive advice, 
451, 452 

Olathy Town : the bully Cosgrove, 
107 ; trial of Miliner at, 122-4 
" Old Rip," 364 
Ortega, General, 459 

Pass, Deadman's, massacre at, 327 

Paul, T., Captain of Mounted 
Rifles, 164 ; his expedition to 
Val Verde, 165, 166; his 
Indian fight in Atacosa country, 
190-94 

Pecos, River ; a bad crossing, 331 

Piedra Pinta : Indian paintings 
on, 325 

Piedras Negras, pueblo of : en- 
counter with renegades at, 315 ; 
Alcalde, 316 ; his cuentos 
(tales), 318 

Pigeon-roosts, 57 

Planters : ruined by abolition of 
slavery, 440 ; curious case of 
Carol Jones, Mulatto, 441-3 

" Prairie schooners," 104-6 ; Ne- 
braska, 126, 127 

Princeton, Virginia : our reception 
at, 19 ; the " Court day," 23 ; 
kindly folks, 25 ; the goal, 46 

Ragsdale, Dan, of the Frio : his 
ranch, 177 ; killed in Louisiana, 
179 

Raid into Mexico, the : night 



march, 293, 294 ; capture of 
Mexican Guard, 295 ; com- 
plete surprise of Davis' camp, 
296 ; hanging of prisoners, 297 ; 
escort him to Magruder's camp, 
298 ; excitement in Mexico, 
and release of Davis, 298 

Railway tickets, 61 

Randall of Arkansas, lucky meet- 
ing with, agrees to buy Medina 
ranch, 178 

Rangers : The Kansas, or " Border 
Ruffians," 83, 87 ; 2nd 
Lieutenant in, 88 ; " Bush- 
whacking " and murders by, 
88 ; Texan Partizan, 226 ; 
futile work in, 230-33 ; recruit- 
ing for, 265-7 ; converted into 
regular cavalry, 303 ; leave 
Dunn's ' Command, 307-9 ; 
elected Captain, 319 ; march to 
Lorado, 320 ; permanent camp 
for, 321 ; long scout with, 323- 
62 ; ordered to join Major 
Hunter, 364 ; conditions of 
service changed, 366 ; dis- 
banded, 408 

Regiment, a Nigger, 449 

Rhoda, Aunt, 37 

Richmond, Virginia : taken for 
showmen at, 6 ; legislative 
Hall at, 61 

Rio Grande : Mexican name, 
" El Rio Bravo," 427 

Roberts, Major, 407 

Russell, " Billy," the great 
freighter, 128-30 

San Antonio : surrender of, by 
General Twig, 162-4 ; fray in 
Plaza, 262 ; return to, from 
New Orleans, 459 ; meet 
General Ortega at, 459 

San Felipe, springs of, 326 

San Juan, Mexican pueblo of, 428- 
30 ; manners and customs, 
428-37 

Scouting : after retiring U.S. 
troops, 172, 173 ; their sur- 



INDEX 



477 



render, 174 ; with Dan West- 
fall, 329-42 ; with Mexicans, 
348-50; with Major Hatch, 
353-6 ; after Muscalaros In- 
dians, 358 

" Shad," the claim-rusher, 97 

Shawnee : reserve for pre-emption, 
95 ; making claims on, 96, 98 ; 
belles, 108; stoicism, 108, 109; 
the chief Tecumseh's daughter, 
129 

Shoemaker, 110-11 ; his last 

j& 'good-bye, 135 

Sibley, General ; disastrous march 
to New Mexico, 201, 202 

Sioux Indians, 77 

Slaves : slavery, abolition of, 3 ; 
first experience of, 6 ; become 
a slave-owner, 59 ; Seth Wood- 
ruff, dealer in Lynchburg, 60 ; 
difficulty of moving into Free 
State, 61 ; the aristocracy of 
owning, 64 ; a runaway shot, 
74 ; hiring out my own, 76 ; 
trustworthy Ann, 79 ; the 
Nigger-stealer and his fate, 
136, 137 ; of the Mulatto, 
Carol Jones, 441, 442 

Slocum, Sam, ex-Confederate sur- 
geon, 470 

South, the misplaced confidence 
of, 196 

Spofforths Brothers, of New York, 

467 
Squatter organisation, 93 ; at 
land auction, 94 ; headquarters, 
hymn-singing at, 110; rival 
organisations come to blows ; 
Molesby's death, 111-13 

St. Louis, 64 ; intense frost at, 
65 ; sawing out steamboats 
at, 69 ; the ice-floor breaks up 
at, 69, 70 
Sutlejy the, 4 

Tecumseh, 129 

Texas : arrival in, 147 ; prospect- 
ing for cattle ranch, 150-6 ; 
camping out, 151 ; Secession 



movement in, 157-60 ; meeting 
in the Alamo Plaza, 158, 159 ; 
Mounted Riflemen, 164 ; leaders 
in, 229, 230 ; 3rd Regiment of, 
282 ; universal conscription 
in, 319 ; food in, 323 ; leave 
for home, 465 ; return to, 466, 
468 ; final departure from, 472 

Thompson : meeting with, at Phil- 
adelphia; wants to farm in 
Canada or States, 140 ; start 
for Texas, 141 ; journey 
thither, 141-4 ; " Colonel," 
141 ; sufferings with the pack- 
pony, 154 ; deal with Federals, 
175; first Indian fight, 192; 
as cook, 269 ; sold his share 
of ranch, 269, 270 ; at Browns- 
ville ; has yellow fever, 301 ; 
his life-story, 304-6 ; death 
and burial, 306 

Thompson, Charlotte, 452 

Tornado, a Western, 114, 115 

Tramping, 8 

Turkey, baked, 189 

Turkeys, wild, 58 

Twig, General, 162-4 

Vicksburg, fall of, 311 
Vidal, the half-breed, 289-92 
Vigilance Committee, the : its 
handiwork on Salado Creek, 
155 ; how Young was hanged, 
180-2 ; and the young Ranger 
was treated, 196-8 ; Asa Min- 
shul, its head, 199 ; and his 
rope, 200 
Vinton, Jack, 220 ; first meeting 
with Jaque, the elder, 461 ; 
Jaque's bad news of the ranch, 
467 ; Jaque takes over ranch, 
472 
Voices, night, 422-4 

Walker, Major Amos, 11 ; his 
family and farm, 13 ; his 
opinion of Britain, 17 

Walker (of Kansas), murder of, 
118-20 



478 



INDEX 



Ward, Artemus, 452 

Wasp, General, 284-6 ; scare at 
Brownsville ; burns barracks 
and cotton, 287, 288 ; makes 
strategic movement to the 
rear, 289 ; his protege Vidal, 
and his doings on the Rio 
Grande, 289-92 

Watson, " Colonel," 66 

Westf all, Dan, of the Leona : a 
great trailer and hunter, 329 ; 
his pastimes and business, 336 ; 
his story, 337-42 ; ranch on 



the Leona, 337, 338 ; the 
Lepans attack, 339, 340 ; 
rescued at point of death, 
339, 340 ; notches on his rifle, 
342 ; guides through unknown 
country, 359-61 

White and Black, widening gulf 
between, 442 

Williams, Dan, Lieutenant : his 
surprise of the " mott," 380-2 ; 
rashness and death, 400 

Woodruff, Seth, 60 

Wyoming Court House, 50, 51 






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